[Ebook] ➠ Operation Shylock. A Confession Author Philip Roth – Publitags.co

Time Magazine Best American NovelIn This Fiendishly Imaginative Book Which May Or May Not Be Fiction , Philip Roth Meets A Man Who May Or May Not Be Philip Roth Because Someone With That Name Has Been Touring Israel, Promoting A Bizarre Reverse Exodus Of The Jews Roth Is Intent On Stopping Him, Even If That Means Impersonating His Own Impersonator With Excruciating Suspense, Unfettered Philosophical Speculation, And A Cast Of Characters That Includes Israeli Intelligence Agents, Palestinian Exiles, An Accused War Criminal, And An Enticing Charter Member Of An Organization Called Anti Semites Anonymous, Operation Shylock Barrels Across The Frontier Between Fact And Fiction, Seriousness And High Comedy, History And Nightmare

10 thoughts on “Operation Shylock. A Confession

  1. says:

    Look, I ve got personalities than I can use already All you are is one too many Philip Roth, Operation Shylock A ConfessionThis is where the late, great Roth run began Operation Shylock started what might just be the greatest series of great books by one author I can think of Operation Shylock A Confession 1993 Sabbath s Theater 1995 American Pastoral 1997 I Married a Communist 1998 The Human Stain 2000 Like I tend to do with great writers, I back into their early greats I read backwards, crosswise, and reverse into the first So, 2014 21 years after it was first published , I find myself reading and loving Operation Shylock I am amazed by Roth s ability to bend an idea back and forth without having it break He is able to flex and bend sinister an idea until every detail has been bled out The ink of the effort is all on the page He is able to construct a book filled with doppelg ngers, liars, Jews, Palestinian rock throwers, and professors and wreck havoc on any simplicity of plot Every mirror in Roth s novel reverses the part in your hair and eventually shows you that your belief about who you are and what you believe is constructed out of fiction There is no fact only deception and transgression This novel isn t built from one narrative It is built out of several narratives The narrative of Roth writing about a Roth a fictionalized version of Roth being stalked by a Roth Moshe Pipkin Everyone is gaming everyone Interjected into the narrative are several true narratives Aharon Apelfeld, Leon Klinghoffer, John Demjanjuk who may be also be Ivan the Terrible Demjanjuk These true narratives serve to also deepen the idea of a fluid identity, our mutual responsibility, our ultimate nature to lie, to deceive, to hustle Then there is the other true narrative The narrative of the Jew, the Goy, Israel, and the Diaspora Roth is somehow able to weave this all together in a way that fits and works Roth is able to reflect on his place within the Jewish community and as a writer in a way that he couldn t without being confronted with a transgressive doppelg nger Anyway, I m still trying to get my brain and my stomach comfortably around the whole of it Perhaps, I ll write tomorrow about the missing Chapter 11, or perhaps I ll just say screw it and return to my own goy problems.

  2. says:

    Despite having read Operation Shylock A Confession many years ago, I can easily remember having thoroughly enjoyed this brilliant novel with its autobiographical or confessional touches Philip Roth gifts the reader a supreme narrative with satirical humor and provocation, and a plot that plays with the idea of the author and his double inside it all Although it s certainly not an easy read, probably controversial, it makes you think and for me it was than worth the effort Let Phillip Roth speak for himself, if only briefly Look, I ve got personalities than I can use already All you are is one too many And, Better for real things to be uncontrollable, better for one s life to be undecipherable and intellectually impenetrable than to attempt to make casual sense of what is unknown with a fantasy that is mad Better, I thought, that the events of these past three days should remain incomprehensible to me forever than to posit, as I had just been doing, a conspiracy of foreign intelligence agents who are determined to control my mind We ve all heard that one before Just one Where everything is words, you d think I d have some mastery and know my way around, but all this churning hatred, each man a verbal firing squad, immeasurable suspicions, a flood of mocking, angry talk, all of life a vicious debate, conversations in which there is nothing that cannot be saidno, I d be better off in the jungle, I thought, where a roar s a roar and no one is hard put to miss its meaning

  3. says:

    Highly inventive, Operation Shylock is a long questioning of identity and legitimacy It has a rather complex web of characters and you never are quite sure who is real and who isn t I enjoyed reading it, but it felt a bit unfinished although the Epilogue attempts to explain why and so I will probably have to revisit the book again in the future to sound its depths further I found American Pastoral and The Human Stain entertaining books to be honest and since GR doesn t offer 1 2 stars, I am giving this one 4 of them.RIP 1933 2018 One of America s literary giants has left us.

  4. says:

    I ve said so many rude things about Philip Roth here, you know, what a sexist fucker he is, just the standard stuff, nothing surprising He had been pretty expert in getting my goat I waded through Americal pastoral and Sabbath s Theatre, great god almighty what crap Oh yes, he can turn a rare sentence make the English language dance like a five ball juggler, he s annoyingly brilliant at that Pity he can t think of a half decent story with some humanity about it But here is the book that reveals the diamond geezer beneath the penis If you haven t read Operation Shylock, then let me say this is the rothophobe s Roth It s a complete hoot The definition of a hoot is a good time to be had by all The general idea of this bonkers novel is that Philip Roth is reading the New York Times one day and is disturbed to find out that he s been on a speaking tour of Israel all that very month Of course he s been in New York the whole time It turns out there s someone impersonating him running around Israel preaching a crazy idea called Diasporism This idea goes something like Jews Get out of Israel now Are you crazy, coming here to Israel Now you re all in one handy small country, surrounded by your enemies, what do you think s gonna happen Get back to Germany and Poland They re the safest places for Jews now Go on, skedaddle Now So Philip Roth gets on a plane to track down the other Philip Roth and much hilarity ensues Yes, it s a black comedy What other types are worth reading Are there any white comedies Five big stars.

  5. says:

    Superb Reminds me of Saul Bellow s Humboldt s Gift in the way it illuminates a specific cultural milieu In this case, Jerusalem in 1988 I seek to place this worthy book in like company only As to its prose style, tone, diction etc it s inimitable Activities taking place in Israel that year include the First Palestinian Intifada, the Israeli suppression of same, and the trial of alleged S.S guard John Demjanjuk, known at death camp Treblinka as Ivan the Terrible, who was ultimately acquitted Amid this tense setting, Roth encounters a double using his name to promote a wacky scheme called Diasporism that would return Jews to the Polish countryside from which Hitler had all but eradicated them The double s justification for this anti Zionist operation being that current Israeli operations against the Intifada virtually guarantee one of two outcomes Either the PLO eradicates all Jews in their homeland another Holocaust or the Jews themselves nuke the Arabs to smithereens and thus lose their souls The real PR has terrible trouble with the fake PR, who s a dead ringer, and mayhem ensues My favorite character is Smilesburger, first introduced to us as a retired American jeweler Of the dozen or so Roth books I ve read, this is the most post modern The narrative elegantly questions its own devices and it may be the final word on the doppelg nger concept, which Vladimir Nabokov rightly found such a bore Well, that was before Philip Roth, the real one, got his hands on it Operation Shylock is one of the most intellectually thrilling novels I ve ever read For me its excellence comes very close to that other Roth paragon, American Pastoral, which keeps one thinking long after the text has been laid aside.

  6. says:

    Remember the movie Being John Malkovich Some characters discover a portal into John Malkovich s head, through which they can see the world as he does Then John Malkovich enters into John Malkovich s head, and things really get weird John Malkovich multiplied and turned back upon himself That gives an inkling of this book, only with Philip Roth instead.When I was a child I thought I would be an artist but I had zero self confidence When I hit high school and saw that others could draw as well or better I gave it up But during college and graduate school all the papers I had to write became my art projects Later, during young mother and family years, I thought it was my life that was my art project Now here comes Philip Roth to say there is no I and it is me He is writing for his life, staying one step ahead of chaos.I finally went back to my seat in the second row and sat there doing what I ve done throughout my professional life I tried to think, first, how to make credible a somewhat extreme, if not outright ridiculous story, and, next, how, after telling it, to fortify and defend myself from the affronted who read into the story an intention having perhaps to do less with the author s perversity than with their own.I wanted to learn something from this mishmash of a book, and that is the kernel of it, and the gift of this book, for me We are put here, and plot contrivances come at us from out of left field no matter what comes at us, ridiculous, bizarre, devastating, unfair, anticipated or not, lucky or not, we have to get to field it Some of us will prefer Philip Roth s writerly metaphor This also ties in with other thinking and ongoing discussions about the reality or not of our I, our sense of personal identity, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.So, does this book speak in generally applicable terms No It speaks in Philip Rothian terms, a major aspect of which is captured by the following quote.Everything dictated silence and self control but I couldn t restrain myself and spoke my mind.I think an aspect of being a writer is that one either must speak or feel depressed and ill, or, an even worse alternative, get into trouble Philip Roth says everything, everything, that is on his mind, much of which is politically incorrect or that one simply cannot say, on all sides of every issue he channels himself and gets it said.As synopses will tell you, the mischief begins with Philip Roth, a character in his own book, learning that while he s at home in the USA, an imposter posing as him is over in Israel advocating Diasporism the opposite of Zionism an exodus in reverse to bring all the Jews in Israel back to Europe The rest of the book unfolds from the premises of Diasporism and Philip Roth s double I d say the setting and much of the talk involves history and politics concerning Jews and, of course, antisemitism and what Jews think and what other people think about Jews all via Philip Roth, of course Most of the action is set back in 1988 Some names have changed and technology has changed but I was surprised how much remains the same I used to be relatively apolitical and had my head stuck in the sand so I had thought some of it was of recent vintage The book s sometimes hilarious, sometimes eye opening, sometimes runs on and on It s convoluted and not always easy It s Roth it took me 60 pages to get into I liked it I hit pay dirt with that big Eureka moment I laughed I said enough already My reaction is tempered by being a Jew There s a lot I don t know about how you will react to all the Jewishness in this book if you are not, although I can conceive of a multiplicity of whys and wherefores I have not taken a course in American Jewish literature, or, for that matter, any Jewish literature although I was once an English major for six months.What I did to give the prospective reader a flavor was put up a lot of quotes from Operation Shylock There were none before I ve got 13 of them up so far Go to the book here on Goodreads quotes down at the bottom right of the book page and click to see It s even easier than that They are all lined up under this review Paul Bryant s review led to my reading this book I d never heard of it and thought it had just been written.One thought Although Philip Roth talks a lot at the cost of beaucoups of words, there are still some left Where there s life, there s words.

  7. says:

    A Rothologist s Collector s ItemJust when I thought I had read the most bizarre of books from Philip Roth, I stumble upon another This is one of those, written at the time when Roth was recovering from a nervous breakdown after taking the drug Halcion for pain management that reduced him to paranoia, a deadly state for a novelist who already skirts that area of the mind.Fact merges with fiction in this book The facts are that Roth uses his own name for the protagonist and relates his visit to Israel to interview author Aron Apelfeld, a holocaust survivor While in Isreal, Roth also visits the trial of John Demjanjuk who is being tried for potentially having been Ivan the Terrible during WWII The fiction is that there is a doppelganger in Israel claiming to be Philip Roth and stirring up support for another Jewish diaspora, this time a migration out of Israel and back to Europe where the memory of the Holocaust is quite not extinguished the rationale is that the Israelis face certain extermination by their Arab neighbours but that Europe will never let Holocaust II happen.Everyone is not who they claim to be the two Roths who keep switching roles Damjanjuk is not Ivan the Terrible, or is he is Smilesburger a seller of antiquarian books or a Mossad agent The book is seeded with long swaths of dialogue where the pros and cons of Diaspora vs Settlement are discussed ad nauseum Roth and his doppelganger emerge as representatives of the diaspora and Apelfeld as a supporter of settlement In between, Roth is gifted the diaries of Leon Klinghoffer, the victim of the Achile Lauro hijacking, and we are entertained to a travelogue on Israel The Palestinian viewpoint is presented by Roth s old university friend, George, who is eternally spewing anti Israeli comments and dubs himself a word throwing Arab, not a stone throwing one And sex There is no Roth book that is complete without the urging of the loins The sex bit is provided by Jinx Posseski, the fake Roth s nurse, who sleeps with the original and the double, and physically makes love to the latter even after death does them part.The twist in the book is the last chapter, which is purposefully omitted, and which ostensibly describes a task Roth performs for the Mossad that he wants to put in the book but which they want to keep out Roth, the career novelist, is committed to his art and abhors censure In his words The writer redefined the permissible That was the responsibility Nothing need hide itself in fiction And yet the penalty of crossing the Mossad is not death on a dark road for Roth but the worse sentence of loshon hora evil speak that which can destroy his literary career And so we get another twist that leaves the plot, in Roth s words, the story is frivolously plotted, over plotted, too freakishly plotted, with outlandish events so wildly careening around every corner that there is nowhere for intelligence to establish a foothold and develop a perspective Plot inconsistencies apart, the fluency of prose with this author is at its height in this book, and so is his manic expression, which is understandable given his addled mental state caused by Halcion I wondered why Roth wrote this book, other than to keep up his regular output that must have been demanded by his publisher, sickness notwithstanding And I toyed with the idea that perhaps it may have been his attempt to atone for his Jew bashing by showing himself undertaking work for the Mossad But since the missing final chapter holds the key, we really wonder whether that assignment, which is the title of this book, is also a work of fiction Given the platitudes to Roth as an imminent novelist and political influencer that dot the book, I wondered whether this novel was Roth s own pat on the back to himself in George s words, Philip, you are a Jewish prophet and you always have been You are a Jewish seer Smilesburger has a less than complimentary view and describes Roth as one who has made his fortune as a leading Jewologist of international literature Overall, a good addition to the library of an ardent Roth o logist, which I am.

  8. says:

    The way I see it, this is the book Philip Roth was put on this Earth to write Oh, people will talk about how insightful Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories or The Plot Against America or the 9,647 Zuckerman books are, but I think this book has to say than any of those, or at least the admittedly piecemeal selection see Columbus and the American trilogy I ve read of them It s also funnier, much funnier, than the rather one joke Portnoy s Complaint And hey, why wouldn t it be Roth s back to alter ego play, except this time his alter ego, which allows him to be funnier and introspective than he was as either Portnoy or Kepesh or Zuckerman, is Philip Roth Or rather, an unrelated Philip Roth impersonating him, which of course means the version of him crafted and curated specially for this novel So it s Philip Roth, writing about Philip Roth, processing Philip Roth.The backstory goes that Roth, after some serious surgery, had a bit of a breakdown while taking a sleeping pill that wasn t quite ready for public consumption This, as far as I can tell, happened to the real Roth The whole bit about the other Philip Roth henceforth Moishe Pipkin, his nickname in the book going down to Jerusalem and telling all the Jewish people of European descent to return to their home countries diasporism, he calls it, and he ostensibly wants to save the Jewish people from the hostilities of the Middle East is probably fictional, a little swipe at the broader Jewish community s complex relationship with Roth, as far as I can tell So ok, here s where things get fun We learn early on that, for all his political ambitions, Pipkin is a fundamentally ridiculous figure He s got an exaggerated love for Roth, and he expresses his emotions in downright cartoonish extremes Roth s nickname for him, Moses Bellybutton in Yiddish, is apparently a sort of Jewish leprechaun So then, combining the fact that Roth here faces off with his alter ego with Roth s propensity to pile alter egos up, I have to take this as Roth kinda making fun of himself a little That s not to say stuff isn t serious in this book, that there s nothing at stake and it s all a big farce Buuuut it s fun to see Roth write a book with so much awareness of his own reputation, fun to see this complex play of dismissal and fear that he implicitly runs Portnoy, Kepesh, Zuckerman, and yeah even Roth as character himself through It s always fun to see a smart person in the public eye create a Thing about how the public perceives them anyway, and that this smart person is a writer is double the fun for me, because the general notion of fiction gets turned on its ass here As is, I suppose, the metafictional way It s not new to point out that an author might write a protagonist, even a number of protagonists, that are basically shadow versions of themselves, but the whole notion of the shadow getting out of control is so much goddamn fun for me And Roth pulls off this premise with remarkable completeness and alacrity, firing off joke after joke, gag after gag, getting progressively and meta, and even interrogating his famous misogyny a little bit As much as I d like Ok, maybe not, and I m not sure Roth ever truly faced it down the way the matter merited, but every little bit helps.So it s manic, but it s also contemplative As I mentioned, there s a sense of seriousness here, a weight that cuts through the jokes and gives them a sense of context Because it s all about identity and false accusations and doubles, like the trial of Ivan the Terrible, a real life concentration camp guard who is also allowed to double, who is granted just as many shadow selves and yet, despite taking on the role of the average dude from Cleveland, was still capable of carrying out true and unbelievable horror Roth can be a really artful writer when he sets aside the stuff that gets on my nerves about him, and I appreciate how he doesn t make any explicit parallels between his situation and Ivan s It s there to deepen the theme of identity, and I for one think it does so terrifically And it drives me crazy how I waver on this guy, how badly I wish I could just dismiss him the way I ve safely dismissed Updike and the way he s always got that one book that tells me, no, he s got it after all The cycle played out first when I, let down by Portnoy s Complaint, gave him one last shot with American Pastoral and lo and behold I was hooked I burned through that one quickly, with Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories and The Human Stain diminishing in their returns until I eventually hit the not quite bloodless but certainly anemic a phrase I can t in good conscience use to describe this book I Married a Communist At which point I decided I was done with Roth Except he wasn t done with me, and he still isn t I ll probably be split on the late Mr Roth until the day I die, and I definitely have to take this guy one book at a time This This is the best one I ve read so far And can we talk about how much I hate that title The Plot Against America It s so artless and bland and blunt, so bereft of poetry and ambiguity, so Fox News y, so beneath Roth s astonishing verbal facility, I kinda don t want to read that book and I certainly don t want anyone to see me reading it.

  9. says:

    When I was twenty one I left home, I left the north, and moved in with a Scottish woman, a friend of the mother of my then girlfriend I d got a job in Leamington Spa and needed a place to stay The morning after moving in I woke up and still in my underwear went to the bathroom to brush my teeth etc As I made to leave, however, the door handle came off in my hand I was stuck The house was empty I was in there two hours, contemplating jumping, until I managed to convince with difficulty a passing child to fetch his mother While I was at University, during my first week in fact, I drank a pint of tequila and nearly died I woke up midday the following day, covered in bruises and laying on a vomit covered bed in a room I did not recognise Once, after breaking up with a girlfriend I agreed to travel to London to see her She turned up but had a funny turn on the tube and ran off I tried to follow her but I couldn t keep up I never saw her again I called a friend of mine and we agreed to go for a drink I got so drunk, however, that I passed out on the train home, which happened to be the last train that day, missing my stop and ending up in the arsehole of nowhere Pissed and lost, I had to hitchhike home Another time, I managed to convince a girl that I was in a very famous band, my act being so convincing that when I next bumped into her, weeks later, she told me she had actually bought tickets to see the band expecting me to be on stage I wasn t, of course These short anecdotes are merely the tip of the iceberg, the tip of the tip.Life is messier than fiction If I wanted to write a story would I consider any of the things that have actually happened to me No, I would dismiss them as unbelievable, stupid, too full of silly coincidences and unrealistic choices or unsound psychology Life is messier than fiction, unless, of course, you re talking about Operation Shylock by Philip Roth This is a novel that purports to be a true story, actually does feature genuine, verifiable, events, and yet all of it feels categorically, almost gallingly, unreal Take the basic plot, which is that Philip Roth, the writer, finds out that there is another Philip Roth, an impostor, in Jerusalem espousing controversial views on his the real Roth s behalf Roth travels to Jerusalem and becomes embroiled in a madcap game of cat and mouse and espionage, which involves crippled agents, a million dollar cheque, arab freedom fighters, a dying man with a prosthetic penis, and so on Like, huh Then there is the trial of John Demjanjuk, which features prominently in the text John Demjanjuk was arrested on suspicion of being Ivan the Terrible, a brutal Nazi guard responsible for almost mind boggling cruelty at the Treblinka concentration camp He is, believe it or not, being defended by a Jew, whose own mother was a holocaust survivor This lawyer, by the way, was actually attacked by a holocaust survivor not his own mother , who threw acid in his face Sounds like bullshit, don t it Who is going to buy this crap An acid throwing holocaust survivor Yet, it s all true Go look it up.I guess the most pertinent question is how does Roth manage to manipulate this material, how does he mould it into a coherent novel The answer is that he doesn t Operation Shylock is something of a clusterfuck much like this review so far , but it s a pretty fucking engrossing one Part of Roth s focus is the tension between truth and fiction, the tenuous grasp that we have on reality, on who we are and what is happening to us, and around us For example, who is the real Ivan the Terrible This is a genuine question, because there were, and still are, doubts, differences of opinion Some say Demjanjuk, some say that the evidence against him was falsified, that Ivan the Terrible was another man, Ivan Marchenko Yet the novel asks another question, one given even greater prominence, which is who is the real Philip Roth Indeed, one cannot take anyone or anything in the book on face value What s real is unbelievable, what is fiction is, well, unbelievable also.On Roth and his double one could argue that Pipik, which is what Roth calls his impostor, does not exist At the beginning of the novel Roth describes a mental breakdown that he suffered as a result of taking a drug called Halcion This drug leaves him feeling suicidal and categorically not himself It is not difficult, then, to see Piipik as a consequence of this breakdown, of this feeling of not being oneself Indeed, at one point Roth looks in the mirror and does not recognise himself Is this Pipik staring back at him Is Pipik the crazy Roth, the broken down Roth The irrational Roth The whole novel is suffused with doubles the Arab that he knew thirty years previously as a mild, moderate man turns up in Jerusalem as an extremist, the cripple Smilesburger is encountered initially as a holocaust survivor only to turn out to be an agent, Demjanjuk is both an old man from Ohio and, possibly, a sadistic war criminal etc Perhaps the biggest indication that Pipik is not real is when towards the end of the novel Roth admits to mentally composing, to imagining, a letter from Pipik s girlfriend describing his death An imaginary death for an imaginary character, perhaps.Throughout Operation Shylock there is a very weird tension between high seriousness and farce, which is something that I have only previously encountered in the work of the renowned modernist Witold Gombrowicz Roth deals, in detail, with some very important issues, such as the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Diasporism, Palestinian displacement, Jewish culpability, the Holocaust and whether it is used as a propaganda tool, terrorism, extremism, anti semitism, etc Simultaneously, there runs throughout the novel the double double agent caper I have previously mentioned, which is obviously ridiculous In this way, Operation Shylock is like two books in one Yet there must be a reason for this duality What was Roth trying to achieve I think on one hand he wanted to treat these issues with the gravity they deserve, while also making the point that a lot of the beliefs and behaviour and arguments around them are insane So, we have the crazy Arab friend who wants to enlist Roth a Jew to fight for his cause, we have the imposter Roth who wants the Jews to leave Israel and return to Europe en masse, etc Indeed, all wars, all conflicts, all ideologies contain some element of insanity, otherwise people would not be willing to die for them.Maybe all of this sounds like trash to you I dunno I enjoyed it I think there is a lot of Roth s best writing in the book, although it is very centred on Jewish issues and Jewish history which some may find alienating The biggest issue for me was the Roth as character stuff I have always maintained that authors absolutely should not, under any circumstances, appear in their own work Had Roth not been Roth, so to speak, but, say, Nathan Zuckerman, who is himself a thinly disguised Roth this is getting so meta it s hard to keep it all straight , I would not have questioned the book So, why do I dislike authors as characters I find it egotistical, unnecessarily self obsessive yes, Zuckerman might be Roth, or a kind of Roth, but Roth as Roth This is just taking it too far There are points in the novel when characters speak to Roth about his work, praising it and praising him as the author Even when someone in the book criticises Roth they do so with back handed compliments, for example, they will say something like oh, you, the important writer, who everyone knows, with all those fans, who wrote those wonderful books, why are you such a dick Like, jeez Was Roth getting off on all that At times I contemplated giving up, but then there were other times when I thought that Roth was being ironic, that it was a joke Maybe he made it so that everyone he meets in the book is convinced of his importance and status because in reality that kind of thing never happened to him I don t know Is this aspect of the novel a satire on authors and their fans or authors and the people who want to use them Again, I don t know I do, however, believe that some of the stuff in the book, some of the jokes, can only be enjoyed or appreciated by Roth himself, and that isn t good writing Having said that, I did not give up on the book, despite these misgivings, so it must have a certain kind of power Operation Shylock is a strange, hysterical, almost nightmarish novel, which may not be Roth s best but is certainly one of his most entertaining and thought provoking.

  10. says:

    Roth s two great themes are masturbation and his own fabulous success at having written a book about masturbation.I don t mean that entirely as a knock The first of these, at least, is obviously a very important subject I m of the opinion Portnoy s Complaint is one of the funniest books ever written Still I feel like I pretty quickly reach a point of diminishing returns when I read Roth His focus is just so narrow In Operation Shylock he tries to branch out a little by bringing in the legacy of the Holocaust and Israeli politics, but history must always pass through the sieve of his ego Philip Roth the universally beloved yet widely misunderstood novelist. The sexual hijinks here are pretty minimal A few good rants, otherwise not much to liven things up.