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Amis, Martin

Martin Amis (ā´mĬs), 1949–, English novelist; son of Kingsley Amis. The younger Amis, who turned from literary journalism to fiction, invites comparison with his father through his choice of career and style. Often writing satire so bitterly sardonic that it goes far beyond the caustic comedy of his father's fiction, he has exposed the darker aspects of contemporary English society in his novels. Among them are The Rachel Papers (1973), Dead Babies (1975), Money (1984), London Fields (1990), The Information (1995), Yellow Dog (2003), The Pregnant Widow (2010), and Lionel Asbo: State of England (2012). His short-story collections include Heavy Water and Other Stories (1999). Among his nonfiction works are The War against Cliché (2001), a selection of mainly literary essays and reviews, and Koba the Dread (2002), an examination of Stalinism's horrors and the attitudes of Western intellectuals toward the Soviet regime. The novel House of Meetings (2006) also treats similar themes—the Soviet Gulag and Stalinist atrocities. He explores the Holocaust in two novels: Time's Arrow (1991), the story of a Nazi concentration camp doctor told in reverse chronological order, and The Zone of Interest (2014), which, set in Auschwitz, treats intimacy, the banality of evil, and the horrors of the Nazi genocide. His collection of essays and stories, The Second Plane September 11 (2008), is collectively a polemic that condemns Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist terrorism.

See his memoir Experience (2000); biography by R. Bradford (2012); studies by J. Diedrick (1995, repr. 2004), J. A. Dern (2000), G. Keulks (2003 and, ed., 2006).

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Amis, Martin (Louis)

AMIS, Martin (Louis)

Nationality: British. Born: Oxford, 25 August 1949; son of Kingsley Amis. Education: Exeter College, Oxford, B.A. (honors) in English 1971. Family: Married 1) Antonia Phillips in 1984 (divorced 1996), two sons; 2) Isabel Fonseca in 1998, one daughter; one daughter from an earlier relationship. Career: Editorial assistant, Times Literary Supplement, London, 1972-75; assistant literary editor, 1975-77, and literary editor, 1977-79, New Statesman, London. Since 1979 full-time writer. Lives in London. Awards: Maugham award, 1974. Agent: Andrew Wylie, New York, New York U.S.A.

Publications

Novels

The Rachel Papers. London, Cape, 1973; New York, Knopf, 1974.

Dead Babies. London, Cape, 1975; New York, Knopf, 1976; as Dark Secrets, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, Triad, 1977.

Success. London, Cape, 1978; New York, Harmony, 1987.

Other People: A Mystery Story. London, Cape, and New York, Viking Press, 1981.

Money: A Suicide Note. London, Cape, 1984; New York, Viking, 1985.

London Fields. London, Cape, 1989; New York, Harmony, 1990.

Time's Arrow; or, The Nature of the Offence. London, Cape, and NewYork, Harmony, 1991.

The Information. New York, Crown Publishing, 1995.

Night Train. New York, Harmony Books, 1997.

Short Stories

Einstein's Monsters: Five Stories. London, Cape, and New York, Harmony, 1987.

Heavy Water and Other Stories. New York, Harmony Books, 1999.

Plays

Screenplays:

Mixed Doubles, 1979; Saturn 3, 1980.

Other

Invasion of the Space Invaders. London, Hutchinson, 1982.

The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America. London, Cape, 1986; New York, Viking, 1987.

Visiting Mrs Nabokov and Other Excursions. London, Cape, 1993;New York, Harmony, 1994.

Introduction, The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow. NewYork, Knopf, 1995.

Experience: A Memoir. New York, Hyperion, 2000.

*

Bibliography:

Bruce Chatwin, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes: A Bibliography of Their First Editions by David Rees, London, Colophon Press, 1992.

Critical Studies:

Venus Envy by Adam Mars-Jones, London, Chatto and Windus, 1990; Martians, Monsters, and Madonna: Fiction and Form in the World of Martin Amis by John A. Dern, New York, P. Lang, 2000.

Theatrical Activites:

Actor: Film A High Wind in Jamaica, 1965.

* * *

The buzz surrounding the release of his much anticipated memoir Experience has confirmed Martin Amis's standing as one of the most important contemporary English-language writers. Published in May 2000, Experience is a candid self-portrait of 51-year-old Amis's life, much of which has been played out in public, particularly in the press in his native Britain: his leaving his wife of almost 10 years and his two sons to take up with an American woman; his firing his agent and wife of best friend Julian Barnes in order to secure a more lucrativesome would say extravagantadvance for The Information; his torturous bout of dental reconstruction; andmost importantlyhis complex relationship with his most famous critic and one of England's most important writers of the postwar era, his father Kingsley.

In fact, Amis's fiction has often been defined by its relationship toand difference fromthat of his father. Whereas Kingsley's writing adheres to the aesthetic conventions of realism which aspire to narrative objectivity, Martin's novels exemplify the postmodern aesthetic in which narratives call attention to themselves as fictions through the presence of an intrusive narrative voice which is often indistinguishable from that of the author. The themes pervasive in much of Amis's workself-reflexivity, self-consciousness, epistemological and ontological uncertaintyexemplify the themes of postmodernism and the postmodern novel.

Published in 1973, when Amis was only 24, The Rachel Papers anticipates Amis's concern in future novels with literary and cultural self-consciousness. It is the story of Charles Highway, an articulate and arrogant 19-year-old reflecting on and trying to make sense of his life as he prepares to enter Oxford Universityand adulthood. His story is centered around his seduction of Rachel, whom he meets while in London to attend a cram school for Oxford. As Highway's relationship with Rachel develops, his recognition of her corporeality is in contraposition to his fondness for language, in which he ultimately finds more abandon than sex. Generally well-received when it was first published, The Rachel Papers has become one of Amis's best known novels for its witty and candid representation of the transformation from adolescence to adulthood.

In Dead Babies, which followed in 1975, two groups of charactersthe repulsively self-indulgent upper class English set of Quentin Villiers and his wife Celia, and the extremely drug-and-sex crazed Americansteam up for a weekend orgy of self-destruction that is not quite self -destruction since it is hurried on by the manipulative malignity of the mysterious "Johnny" who turns out to be none other than an alter ego of one of the "Appleseed Rectory" ravers. This narrative trickery, which allows Amis the freedom to ask questions about good and evil, about psychology and identity, and about the rules of narrative writing, without being stuffy or discursive, became a trademark of subsequent fictions.

Both Success and Other People disappointed certain reviewers, though for different reasons; the former, perhaps, because of its entrapment in some of Amis's obsessions and the latter, perhaps, because it attempted to break away from these obsessions and into new ground. In Success, Gregory Riding is another resident in the vicinity of what Philip Larkin called "fulfillment's desolate attic." He is more repellingly self-infatuated than Charles Highway, buteven despite his incestuous affair with his sisterless purely evil than Quentin Villiers. As the wheel of fortune turns, he loses his superhuman abilities with women and goes poetical and mad. Terry, his foster brother and erstwhile dupe, conversely ends up top dog. The novel is written as a dialogue alternating the narratives of the foster-brothers and subtly contrasting their points of view.

The amnesiac displacement of Mary Swan's sensibility that colors the narrative of Other People, might be thought of as providing some sort of continuity with Gregory's ending of Success. This displaced sensibility provides an opaque window through which we see the world of the novel and its events. These include Mary's escape from the hospital, her stay with a group of tramps and with the alcoholic family of one of them, until this relative domestic security is broken up by the violent Jock and Trev. Mary moves on to a hostel and then to a job as a waitress and a place in a squat where she manages a brief relationship with Alan en route to the world of ordinary domesticity, of the "other people," Prince, the apparently friendly policeman comes with the hints of her previous identity as a sexually predatory girl called Amy Hide, who may or may not have been murdered by a mysterious Mr. Wrong. By the end Mary seems to have rediscovered her old self but only, perhaps, in the sense that she has died into a cyclical afterlife or else returned from the death of the novel into her previous life. The novel's epilogue, in the voice of its intrusive narrator, further draws together hints that Prince may in fact be Mr. Wrong and that either or both may be identical with the narrator, who seems to aggrieved at something Mary has done to him and to be ultimately responsible for her death-in-life. Much of this is deliberately left unresolved and was condemned as incomprehensible by some readers. Other People is consequently Amis's most under-rated novel. It demands but also rewards much careful re-reading and, while it is not as funny as his other books, its concerns are close to the lucid center of his art.

The attempt to explore the relationship of narrator to the character and to establish a new and compelling metaphor of narratorial complicity becomes a central thread of Money and also of Amis's 1989 work, London Fields. In Money, the narrator is a grotesque high-and-low-life television commercial director called John Self, who jets backwards and forwards across the Atlantic trying to put together a deal to direct his first feature film. Meanwhile, his precarious life falls apart as sexual, financial, and literary plots become entangled in a series of schemes of which Self turns out not to be the perpetrator, as he supposed, but the victim. Money is perhaps Amis's most exemplary postmodern novel, addressing the tenuous distinction between reality and make-believe, high culture and low culture, as well as the uncertainty about gender roles and the place of women in contemporary society. Money also questions the nature of free will in postmodern society, evidenced in Self's pathological suspicion that he is being manipulated by forces that he cannot apprehend. This issue is further complicated by the appearance in the book of Martin Amis, the writer Self hires to work on his screenplay. Amis the character's musings about the relationship between the author and the characters he creates represents the kind of self-reflexivity and the blurring of the distinction between art and life that define postmodern writing.

Keith Talent, the protagonist of London Fields, is still more at home in a west London pub than Self and has an equally well-developed taste for the bad. The opening statement "Keith Talent was a bad guy " offers an apparently incontrovertible condemnation of his horrible taste for playing darts, more horrible appetite for video pornography, and completely dreadful habit of saying "Cheers!" and "innit" on all occasions. But Keith, repulsive though he is, is to be upstaged in the novel, both by its postmodern femme fatale Nicola Six and by the grander evil of the narrator Samson Young, whom she lures into being the instrument of her planned self-destruction. In some ways, London Fields is a recasting of some of the ideas in Other People according to the lessons learned in writing Money. It has an undercurrentnew since Amis's post-nuclear stories Einstein's Monsters of global crisis and eco-consciousness. We are invited to "imagine the atomic cloud as an inverted phallus and Nicola's loins as ground zero." Language glitters again and identity is a hall of mirrors and, like his darting surrogate, Amis is a master of the devastating finish.

The Jewish-American background of the narrator of London Fields (described in the novel's racy idiolect as a "four-wheel Sherman") may have anticipated the theme of Time's Arrow, whose title had been a provisional title for the previous book. Also reminiscent of the two previous books is Amis's determination to take on the most enormous of the social issues of the 20th century: here it is the Nazi Holocaust and its aftermath. Time's Arrow is Amis's most ambitious technical achievement to date and is, indeed, one of the most extraordinary narrative experiments in existence, almost unprecedented outside of the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. The novel is written in reverse time, tracing a typical American suburban scene of the present back to the concentration camp Auschwitz, where its narrator, Odilo Unverdorben, has been an official. Some readers have complained that the cleverness and showiness of the time experiment detracts from the seriousness of the subject, but this need not be so. Read in the tradition of an experimental and historically traumatized novel like Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five or else backed-up by the critiques of rationalist intellectual constructions provided by postmodernist theoreticians like Theodor Adorno, the disturbances created by the novel's form and by its horrific subject matter hang nightmarishly together.

If Time's Arrow might have led us to expect a development away from the brilliant satire of the early novels towards a more sober and mature seriousness in Amis's work, then The Information must represent something of a disappointment. It is a book that euphorically condemns middle-age but which is surely itself written out of a deeply repressed fear of aging and its disillusionments. In The Information, Amis turns his gaze toward a kind of 40-year-old alter ego called Richard Tulla novelist who is quite pathetically unsuccessful and who ekes out a modicum of literary income and of self-respect from the occasional review. For the most part, it must be said, Amis's reviewers took this chastening portrait of their craft in fairly good part. While Tull vegetates in the ruins of his ego and ambition, his arch rival Gwyn Barry strides from success to success. Only further disappointments greet Tull, and what the novel calls "the information" is his growing sense of vacuity and despair. Amis is quite relentlessly brilliant here, once again, on the compromises to and erosions of literary ambition that are brought on by domesticity and by the loss of a sentimentally cherished but unattainable ideal. Tull is, in some ways, the most fully fleshed, and the most convincing of all of Amis's postmodern grotesques, and he would quite probably have been the most congenial if the author had once relaxed and allowed him to peep out from beneath the high steel-capped heels of his satire. Neither he, nor the author, seem to contemplate for a moment the redeeming possibility that literary success is neither the only nor the absolute in human values; perhaps much in postmodern culture would lead us to the same conclusion.

Night Train, Amis's ninth and most recent novel, was published in 1997 to mixed reviews, criticized by some for sparseness of style and, as John Updike has said, for its "post-human" quality. Night Train is the story of the jaded, tough-talking female detective Mike Hoolihan whose pointed unsentimentality is shaken by the apparent suicide of her boss's daughter Jennifer, whose grisly death seems incongruous with her charmed life. At her boss's request, Mike undertakes to find Jennifer's killer, as it seems unlikely that her death would have been self-inflicted in light of her personal and professional successes, as well as her apparent optimism and benignity. Mike's investigation yields some startling revelations about her own identity and, more generally, about the development of the female identity in the postmodern world, a theme that is pervasive in much of Amis's work. Perhaps more significantly, Night Train explores the issue of motive in postmodernity, another theme important to Amis's work. In typical Amis fashion, Night Train bucks the conventions of genre, offering a detective story in which motive itself becomes the suspect.

In addition to his memoir Experience and the nine novels, Amis has published the short story collections Einstein's Monsters and Heavy Water and Other Stories as well as numerous essays, many of which have been collected in Invasion of the Space Invaders, The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America, and Visiting Mrs. Nabokov and Other Excursions.

Richard Brown

, updated by

Alan Rubin

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Amis, Martin

Amis, Martin (1949– ) British novelist and journalist, son of Kingsley Amis. Amis' debut novel, The Rachel Papers (1974), won the Somerset Maugham Award. His humour is more bawdy and dark than his father's. Money (1984) is a stylish critique of the dehumanizing tendencies of capitalism. Einstein's Monsters (1987) is a collection of five short stories on nuclear war. Time's Arrow (1991) is a complex work on the holocaust. Other novels include Success (1978) and Night Train (1997). In 2000, he published his autobiography Experience.

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Amis, Martin

Amis, Martin

Career
Sidelights
Selected Writings
Sources

Author

B orn Martin Louis Amis, August 25, 1949, in Oxford, England; son of Kingsley William (an author) and Hilary Amis; married Antonia Phillips, 1984 (divorced, 1993); married Isabel Fonseca, 1996; children: Delilah Seale (with Lamorna Heath), Louis, Jacob (from first marriage), Fernanda, Clio (from second marriage). Education: Exeter College, Oxford, B.A. (with honors), 1971.

Addresses: Agent—The Wylie Agency, 250 W. 57th St., Ste. 2114, New York, NY 10107. Home—London, England, and Uruguay.

Career

E ditorial assistant, Times Literary Supplement, 1972-75, fiction and poetry editor, 1974; New Statesman, assistant literary editor, 1975-77, literary editor, 1977-79; first novel, The Rachel Papers, published by J. Cape, 1973; Manchester Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester, professor of creative writing, 2007—. Contributor to anthologies and to numerous periodicals.

Awards: Somerset Maugham Award, Society of Authors, for The Rachel Papers, 1974; James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography, University of Edinburgh Department of English Literature, for Experience, 2000; National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, for The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971-2000, 2001.

Sidelights

M artin Amis is one of Britain’s most famous living literary figures, a writer as lauded for his books as he is reviled for the acclaim they have brought him. The son of novelist Kingsley Amis, he has produced a string of postmodern novels and strongly opinionated essays since his career began, which have earned him a reputation as the quintes-sential English malcontent. In 2006, his tenth novel, House of Meetings, was published to glowing reviews in the British press, which hailed it as a return to his earlier, more succinct prose and plotting style.

Amis was born on August 25, 1949, in Oxford, England, 12 months and ten days after the birth of his older brother, Philip. The Amis parents had met at Oxford when Kingsley was working on his degree and fell in love with art student Hilary Ann Bard-well; they married in 1948 when she became pregnant with Philip. A sister, Sally, was born in 1954. By then Kingsley was teaching at the University College of Swansea, Wales, and his fiction debut, Lucky Jim, appeared that same year. The novel made Amis’ father famous overnight, and was hailed as a comic masterpiece of postwar British literature. Its plot centers on the dejected, disillusioned title char acter, a lecturer at a lesser university whose career prospects hinge upon his cultivating a good relationship with his mentor. The snobbish professor and his music-loving family were allegedly modeled after the Bardwell clan.

Amis’s parents’ marriage deteriorated over the next decade as Kingsley’s literary fame grew and, with it, his penchant for alcohol and extramarital affairs. He was a disciplined writer, however, and his son recalled the household rules in an interview with Lewis Burke Frumkes of Writer magazine. “When I was growing up, it was only in the direst emergency that you knocked on the study door of my father, who’d whip around in his chair and say, ‘What?’—although he was very soft and friendly when he wasn’t in his study.”

The family moved to New Jersey when Kingsley taught at Princeton University for a year, where the eight-year-old Amis was ridiculed when he wore shorts to school on the first day. Back in London, he attended a grammar school in South Kensington, then a boarding school, where he showed himself to be entirely uninterested in much beyond drugs and comic books. When Amis was 17 years old, his father’s second wife—novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard—encouraged him to take up classic English writers. She also worked to get him into a “cram school” to help him prepare for university entrance exams, which he aced to the surprise of many.

Amis earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with honors, from Exeter College of Oxford University in 1971, and went to work as an editorial assistant at the venerable Times Literary Supplement, the separate book-review section of the Times of London. His de-but novel, The Rachel Papers, was published by his father’s publisher, J. Cape, in 1973. The tale of a rakish young man hoping to enter Oxford on a scholarship but distracted by the two young women with whom he is romantically involved, The Rachel Papers earned an unfavorable comparison to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye from Times reviewer David Williams, who conceded that Amis “is very funny though, has a mensa mind beyond any doubt, and can make nice phrases by the score.” The novel was adapted for the big screen years later, with the story updated for the 1980s and becoming one of the cult-classic teen romance films of the decade.

Amis’ second novel, Dead Babies, was followed by Success in 1978, by which time he was working in his final year as literary editor of the New Statesman. His first work of nonfiction was Invasion of the Space Invaders, a 1982 tome with an introduction by film-maker Stephen Spielberg. Its essays discussed films, contemporary politics, and the current video-game craze. Sharp-tongued and famously opinionated, Amis also began to accrue a following on the other side of the Atlantic for his novels, which the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani commended as a distinctly “recognizable fictional world. It is a place defined by Swiftian excess and metropolitan satire, a place where variously shabby characters partake of lust and violence and guilt in hopes of being allowed a second chance.”

Amis’ next novel, the tale of a debauched would-be filmmaker, was set in both New York and London. Money: A Suicide Note was published by J. Cape in 1984, and cemented his reputation, at age 35, as one of Britain’s leading literary talents of his generation; many were surprised when it failed to be nominated for that year’s Booker Prize for Fiction, Britain’s most prestigious literary honor. Eric Korn in the Times Literary Supplement lauded “the astonishing narrative voice he has devised, the jagged, spent, street-wise, gutter-wise, guttural mid-Atlantic twang, the buttonholing, earbending, lughole-jarring monologue” of its anti-hero, the slovenly, chain-smoking television commercial director John Self, who is struggling to bring his script to life. At one point, a writer named “MartinAmis” is brought in to fix it.

Amis’ next novel, London Fields, appeared in 1989 and was set in a London ten years into the future. Its central character is an American writer, ill with cancer, who moves to London as the world teeters on the brink of both the millennium and impending nuclear disaster. Critics consider it to be one of Amis’ finest works, with multiple plotlines that remain strong throughout, unlike some of his other novels. It was followed by Time’s Arrow, or The Nature of the Offense in 1991, whose plot centered around the Holocaust. This was the first work of his to be nominated for the Booker Prize.

In the early 1990s, the British press seemed to turn on Amis. Part of the disenchantment came after stories surfaced that he left his wife of several years and their two young sons for another woman, and then famously ditched his British literary agent of 23 years, Pat Kavanagh, for the American agent Andrew Wylie. Adding another element to the drama was the fact that Kavanagh was married to one of Amis’ closest friends, the novelist Julian Barnes. Wylie then negotiated an immense book deal for Amis’ next work, just completed, that set a new record in publishing of half a million British pounds, or about $794,500. Sales of Amis’ works had never been particularly strong, and publishing-industry insiders noted that his forthcoming novel would probably not earn back that amount in sales. The press derided Amis as ungentlemanly in the kinder reports, and un-English in the vitriolic screeds. Furthermore, much ink was given over to the fact that Amis had used some of the advance money to have major cosmetic dental work done, and had it done by an American dentist, too.

The novel in question, The Information, was published in 1995 and also prompted some sniping, for some thought it had been modeled after Amis’ friendship with Barnes. Its tale centered around two longtime friends who are both novelists; the less successful one attempts to sabotage the other’s career, which backfires and serves to bring even more acclaim onto his rival. Roz Kaveney, critiquing it for the New Statesman & Society, found some positive elements, noting that “the descriptions of Richard’s and Gwyn’s books make one amusedly glad to be reading any other novel—even this one,” but asserted that much of its contrivances were recycled from Amis’ previous works. Kaveney concluded by declaring that “no reviewer should blame Amis for making a lot of money. We are entitled to express concern that a brilliant career has come to this: the overpriced sale of secondhand shoddy.”

Amis’ father died later in 1995, after a career that had spanned 40 years, 20 novels, and several collections of essays and poetry. Later in life, reportedly guilt-stricken over the end of his marriage to Amis’ mother, Kingsley’s drinking intensified, and he often reached a point in the evening where he became unable to walk. Divorced from his second wife, he entered into an unusual arrangement with Bard-well, now married to a titled but impoverished member of the House of Lords, whereby she and Lord Kilmarnock lived in separate quarters in her ex-husband’s London home and cared for him. Amis summed up his literary relationship with his father in an interview with Charles McGrath in the New York Times in 2007. “He was always saying, ‘I think you need more sentences like “He put down his drink, got up and left the room,”’ and I thought you needed rather fewer of them.”

Over the next decade Amis continued to produce works of fiction like 1997’s Night Train—a police procedural—and Yellow Dog, a 2003 novel about a pornography addict that was the target of so much critical scorn that it was said to have prompted Amis to move to Uruguay with his second wife, Isabel Fonseca, who had ties to the South American country. There were also several works of nonfic-tion published over the years, including 1993’s Visiting Mrs. Nabokov and Other Excursions and a 2000 memoir, Experience. In the latter work, Amis wrote of meeting a daughter he had never known until the mid1990s, when she was 19 years old.

Amis earned mixed reviews for his 2002 book, Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million, an examination of Soviet leader Josef Stalin and the years of praise given to the leader of the world’s only Communist state by leftists in the West. The revelations that came after Stalin’s death in 1953 that he persecuted millions of his own citizens in a war of terror through sham trials, labor camps, and government-instigated famines was a blow to the left from which it has yet to recover, Amis argues in the book. The work also incited a minor literary feud with a friend of Amis’, journalist Christopher Hitchens.

In April of 2006, the New Yorker published Amis’ short story “The Last Days of Muhammad Atta,” an imagined tale of the final days of the alleged ring-leader of the 9/11 hijackers, which was an excerpt from a novel in progress. Asked why he made Atta a subject of fiction by Newsweek International writer Silvia Spring, Amis replied that it was Atta’s “face, so rich and malevolent that it haunted me.” Later that year Amis published an 11,000word essay in the London Observer on the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11. He drew upon his as-yet-unfinished novel about radical Islamic operatives and discussed the war in Iraq, Palestinian suicide bombings, and the West’s ineffectual responses to the threat of militant Islamicism. Several passages were inflammatory, but this one was often singled out: “I will never forget the look on the gatekeeper’s face, at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, when I suggested, perhaps rather airily, that he skip some calendric prohibition and let me in anyway,” Amis writes in the essay. “His expression, previously cordial and cold, became a mask; and the mask was saying that killing me, my wife, and my children was something for which he now had warrant.”

The essay, titled “The Age of Horrorism,” ignited major debate and prompted strong rejoinders from scholars of Middle Eastern politics and Islam. The furor served to inadvertently publicize Amis’s next work, the 2006 novel House of Meetings, which is set in a Soviet gulag camp and features a doomed romantic triangle. The Economist praised it as a comeback for the writer, declaring that “Amis has suddenly—and unexpectedly, even to his publishers— turned in a work of real worth, a novel that not so much makes the spine tingle as the heart race at its passion and richness.”

For Amis’ next novel, 2008’s The Pregnant Widow, he described it in one interview as autobiographical and touching upon the themes of Islamicism and feminism. Having moved back to London with his family in 2006 after two and a half years in Uruguay, he was nearing the age of 60 and untroubled by the attacks he regularly received in the British press. “Nearly everyone I know likes me,” he told the Guardian’s Sally Vincent, “and nearly everyone who doesn’t know me hates my guts.”

Selected Writings

Fiction

The Rachel Papers, J. Cape (London, England), 1973; Knopf (New York, NY), 1974.

Dead Babies, J. Cape, 1975; reprinted as Dark Secrets, Panther (London, England), 1977.

Success, J. Cape, 1978.

Other People: A Mystery Story, J. Cape, 1981.

Money: A Suicide Note, J. Cape, 1984; Viking (New York, NY), 1985.

London Fields, J. Cape, 1989.

Time’s Arrow, or The Nature of the Offense, J. Cape, 1991.

The Information, HarperCollins (London, England), 1995..

Night Train, J. Cape, 1997.

Heavy Water and Other Stories, J. Cape, 1998.

Yellow Dog, J. Cape, 2003.

Vintage Amis (selected works), Vintage (London, England), 2004.

House of Meetings, J. Cape, 2006; Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

The Pregnant Widow, J. Cape, 2008.

Nonfiction

Invasion of the Space Invaders (introduction by Stephen Spielberg), Hutchinson (London, England), 1982.

The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America (articles, reviews and interviews), J. Cape, 1986.

Einstein’s Monsters (essay and short stories), J. Cape, 1987.

Visiting Mrs. Nabokov and Other Excursions (essays), J. Cape, 1993; Harmony Books, 1994.

Experience: A Memoir, J. Cape, 2000.

The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971-2000, J. Cape, 2001.

Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million, J.Cape, 2002.

Sources

Economist, October 14, 2006, p. 88.

Guardian (London, England), March 18, 1995, p. 12.

New Statesman & Society, March 24, 1995, p. 24.

Newsweek International, November 6, 2006.

New York, January 22, 2007, pp. 88-89.

New York Times, August 20, 1981; February 4, 1990; April 22, 2007.

Observer (London, England), September 10, 2006; September 17, 2006, p. 10.

Times (London, England), November 22, 1973, p. 13.

Times Literary Supplement, November 26, 1982, p. 1290; October 5, 1984, p. 1119.

Writer, October 2000, p. 14.

—Carol Brennan

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Amis, Martin (Louis)

AMIS, Martin (Louis)

AMIS, Martin (Louis). British, b. 1949. Genres: Novels, Novellas/Short stories. Career: Editorial Assistant, Times Literary Supplement, London, 1972-75; Assistant Literary Ed., 1975-77, and Literary Ed., 1977-79, New Statesman, London. Contributor, Times Literary Supplement, Observer newspaper, and the New Statesman mag., Sunday Times, New York Times, and Sunday Telegraph. Publications: The Rachel Papers, 1973; Dead Babies, 1975, as Dark Secrets, 1977; Success, 1978; Einstein's Monsters (short stories), 1987; Invasion of the Space Invaders, 1982; Other People: A Mystery Story, 1981; Money, 1984; The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America, 1986; Einstein's Monsters (short stories), 1987; London Fields, 1989; The Information, 1995; Night Train, 1997; Heavy Water and Other Stories, 1998; Experience, 2000. Address: c/o The Wylie Agency, 36 Parkside, 52 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7JP, England.

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