At the center of Deception are two adulterers in their hiding place. He is a middle-aged American writer named Philip, living in London, and she is an articulate, intelligent, well-educated Englishwoman compromised by a humiliating marriage to which, in her thirties, she is already nervously half-resigned. The book’s action consists of conversation—mainly the lovers talking to each other before and after making love. That dialogue—sharp, rich, playful, inquiring, “moving” as Hermione Lee writes, “on a scale of pain from furious bafflement to stoic gaiety”—is nearly all there is to this book, and all there needs to be.
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the first writer in its history to do so. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize; in 2012 he received Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.