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"" not only captures the essence of O'Brien's writing, but also suggests the multiple 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 these shared concerns of the two authors, now regarded as literary icons of their respective countries. He traces their forty-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 and the American Jewish perspective 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 it's American-particularly Jewish-American-counterpart. 1 colour illustration