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Operation Shylock : A Confession (Vintage International) Paperback – March 15, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Actually, this may have been Roth's "last gasp" in the humor department, judging by his last few books, but if so, it's perhaps the funniest of them all. Some of the situations here are so absurd, the dialogue so hilarious, that one wonders what Roth could've done as a syndicated humor columnist. As it is, Roth manages to concoct scenes that are simultaneously profound, moving, and hilarious.
The best scenes, though, are the soul-searching ones, especially the remarkable trial scene in which the Roth character (or whatever) delves into his own thoughts, then into the thoughts of those around him, in a mesmerizing way. Roth is an enormously talented writer, and his ability to depict the mind of someone (or himself) is simply remarkable.
In his last few books Roth has let loose with his prose, and reading Operation Shylock is like watching a piano or violin virtuoso who is so good s/he seems to transcend us mere mortals. His ability to weave long, complex sentences that don't become obscure for a second is something few other writers in the English language have ever matched. Should've won the Pullitzer.
Just before making his trip, Roth hears that somebody in Israel is using his name to promote a new Diaspora, imploring the Ashkenazi Jews to return to Europe to reclaim their cultural heritage. Once in Israel, it's not long before he encounters his impersonator after attending a session of Demjanjuk's trial. The impersonator tells Roth that he is a private detective from Chicago and that he runs a counseling service to "cure" anti-Semites, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous in its purpose. Accompanying him in Israel is his girlfriend and a former anti-Semite, a confused American woman with a checkered past, who was his nurse when he was a cancer patient.
Roth's impersonator sees himself as the influential equal and ideological opposite of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism. He advocates Diasporism because he fears that the state of Israel is perceived by the world as Jewish tyranny over Arabs and will lead to a second Holocaust. How the real Roth reacts to this premise develops the rest of the novel, which, as the title implies, shapes itself into a subtle spy story. Some interesting supporting characters are introduced to contribute to the debate and clever plot devices are employed for intrigue.
Anyway, as for the book, I loved the approach to Zionism that Roth brings to the table, and I also loved the idea of the double Roth character.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A tortuous and ambiguous plot about madness, identity and espionage. Serious and funny.Read more
is woven through the book pitting Philip Roth against...Read more