New Book: Fine Meshwork: Philip Roth, Edna O’Brien, and Jewish-Irish Literature by Dan O’Brien. Syracuse University Press

Fine Meshwork: Philip Roth, Edna O’Brien, and Jewish-Irish Literature by Dan O’Brien

In a 1984 interview with longtime friend Edna O’Brien, Philip Roth describes her writing as “a piece of fine meshwork, a net of perfectly observed sensuous details that enables you to contain all the longing and pain and remorse that surge through the fiction.” The phrase “fine meshwork” can apply not only to O’Brien’s writing but also to the connective threads that bind her work to others’, including, most illuminatingly, Roth’s.

Since the publication of their first controversial novels in the 1950s and 1960s, Roth and O’Brien have always argued against the isolation of mind from body, autobiography from fiction, life from art, and self from nation. In Fine Meshwork, Dan O’Brien investigates the shared concerns of these two authors, now regarded as literary icons in their home countries. He traces their fifty-year literary friendship and the striking parallels in their books and reception, bringing together what, at first glance, seem to be quite disparate milieus: the largely feminist and Irish scholarship on O’Brien with Jewish and American perspectives on Roth. In doing so, and in considering them in a transnational context, he argues that the intertwined nature of their writing symbolizes the far-ranging symbiosis between Irish literature and its American—particularly Jewish American—counterpart

Praise For Fine Meshwork

Exceptional, original . . . O’Brien takes on a fascinating topic about which very little has been written and, in so doing, makes a valuable contribution to the growing corpus of books in the emergent field of Irish-Jewish studies.
Stephen Watt, Indiana University

O’Brien’s Fine Meshwork interlaces intricately the works, lives and preoccupations of two (variously) misunderstood contemporary writers so as to ask questions that go beyond considerations of nation and biography. O’Brien’s carefully and playfully written study, with its bold thesis of flirtatious intertextuality, will do much to advance their cause, while offering new and exciting frameworks against which to consider Irish and Jewish-American literature both as separate entities and in relation to transnational and transatlantic studies.
Tara Stubbs, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education & Kellogg College, Oxford

Dan O’Brien is currently an Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at University College Dublin. He is a coeditor of Irish Questions and Jewish Questions: Crossovers in Culture.

Paper $34.95s | 9780815636397
Hardcover $70.00x | 9780815636212
eBook 9780815654674
February 2020