Novelist Became 'Super Cool' Celebrity

Martin Amis was a 'fearless writer,' his editor says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2023 4:55 PM CDT
'Fearless Writer' Martin Amis Also Became a Celebrity
Martin Amis poses in the living room of his home in the Brooklyn borough of New York in 2012.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

British novelist Martin Amis, who brought a rock 'n' roll sensibility to his stories and lifestyle, has died. He was 73 and died at home in Florida on Friday, the AP reports. Amis was the son of another British writer, Kingsley Amis. Martin Amis was a leading voice among a generation of writers that included his friend, the late Christopher Hitchens, Ian McEwan, and Salman Rushdie. Among his best-known works were Money, a satire about consumerism in London, The Information, and London Fields, along with his 2000 memoir, Experience.

Jonathan Glazer’s adaption of Amis 2014 novel The Zone of Interest premiered Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, about a Nazi commandant who lives next to Auschwitz with his family, drew some of the best reviews of the festival. The Holocaust was the topic of Amis' novel Time's Arrow, and House of Meetings was about Josef Stalin's reign in Russia—both examples of how his writing explored the dark soul. "Violence is what I hate most, is what baffles me and disgusts me most," Amis said in 2012. "Writing comes from silent anxiety, the stuff you don't know you're really brooding about and when you start to write you realize you have been brooding about it, but not consciously. It's terribly mysterious."

Amis was a celebrity in his own right, his life often chronicled by London tabloids after his 1973 debut, The Rachel Papers. His love life, his change of agents, even his dental work were fodder for stories. "He was the king—a stylist extraordinaire, super cool, a brilliantly witty, erudite, and fearless writer and a truly wonderful man," said Michal Shavit, his editor in England. "He has been so important and formative for so many readers and writers over the last half-century. Every time he published a new book it was an event." Michiko Kakutani wrote in the New York Times in 2000 that Amis had "a dazzling, chameleonesque command of language, a willingness to tackle large issues and larger social canvases and an unforgiving, heat-seeking eye for the unwholesome ferment of contemporary life."

(More obituary stories.)

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