Roth, who has been writing novels for more than a half-century, explains how he comes up with his ideas — and why he continues to write every day. In his latest work, Nemesis, he imagines a fictional polio outbreak set in his hometown of Newark, N.J., during the 1940s.
Vollmann's latest book, "Fathers and Crows," is a historical novel that's part of his Seven Dreams Series. It's about "the spiritually charged wars of belief" between the Iriquois and French Jesuits in Canada from the 16th to 18th centuries. He's also written about Afghanistan and prostitution.
Writer Ward Just. Just's new novel, "The Translator," is a thriller set in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Just has written nearly a dozen other novels, including "Jack Gance" and "The American Ambassador." Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Just was a journalist, covering the Vietnam War for Newsweek. ("The translator" is published by Houghton Mifflin). (Interview by Marty Moss-Coane)
Writer E.L Doctorow His writing has been praised for bringing to life the traumatic events of American 20th Century history, like the Depression, World War II and Vietnam for the generations too young or too old to feel them. It was Doctorow's 1971 book, "The Book of Daniel," that established his reputation as a major American writer. The book was inspired by the Atom Spy Trials at the height of the McCarthy era. At the time, Doctorow was still working full-time as an editor, working with authors like James Baldwin and Norman Mailer.
The author's books follow the lives of fictional characters in real historical situations. Several of them have been made into films. Doctorow's newest novel, Billy Bathgate, takes place in the criminal underworld of early-twentieth-century New York City.
Writer E.L. Doctorow is known for using real-life historical figures as characters in his period novels. Best known for his book Ragtime, his novel Loon Lake is now available in paperback. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the day-to-day work of a writer and how his job as an editor affected his prose.