Amis says au revoir to all that

Martin Amis's new novel will deliver a withering attack on British society – but it is no parting shot, he tells Andrew Johnson

Martin Amis has written a "devastating portrayal" of British society in his latest novel, as he prepares to leave England. The writer told
The Independent on Sunday yesterday that the much-anticipated novel was not intended to be a "parting shot", however, and that he "feels incurably English" despite his intended move to New York.

Amis said that the book, which was to be titled State of England, will probably be published as Lionel Asbo when it finally appears later this year or early next. Publishing insiders are describing the novel as "a return to form" for the author of The Rachel Papers and London Fields, combining his trademark black humour with acute observations of contemporary Britain.

The IoS has learnt that the novel has been dedicated to his best friend, Christopher Hitchens, another British emigre living in New York, who is currently being treated for cancer.

Lionel Asbo, is, according to a publishing source, "savage in its portrayal of the modern world. The style is cynical, witty, flippant, cruel and acutely observed." If so, it is likely to draw a warmer reception than recent Amis works such as Yellow Dog and The Pregnant Widow.

The novel tells the story of Lionel Asbo, a skinhead lout who wins the lottery while in prison. Amis has revealed that one of the characters, "Threnody", is loosely based on Katie Price, whom he has previously described as little more than "two bags of silicone". Other objects of Amis's satire include the British press and a society obsessed with sex and money.

"The reader is left with a dispiriting view of a society in which pornography is substituted for relationships, children are sexually active and teenagers routinely pregnant, money is prized above all else and violence is both casual and premeditated," said the publishing source.

Despite this Amis said yesterday: "The book is in no sense a parting shot; I wrote most of it before we even thought about going away, and anyway I'm glad to say I feel incurably English."

Rumours that Amis planned to emigrate first surfaced last summer after he put his north London home up for sale for £4.5m, though it was later taken off the market.

However, last month Amis was reported to have bought a $2.5m (£1.6m) mansion in the exclusive Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn, after his wife, the American-born novelist Isabel Fonseca, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying: "I want to go home. I am violently missing my parents."

Yesterday Amis confirmed his planned move for the first time. "We probably are moving to Brooklyn for family reasons, in the summer, but we'll keep a flat here," he said.

It would not be the first time the Amises have left the country. Following the critical mauling of Yellow Dog in 2003, they departed for a two and a half year stint in Uruguay.

From 'very funny' to 'a pumped cruiserweight'

Hits

The Rachel Papers, 1973

Amis's first novel, about a young couple's relationship, won the Somerset Maugham Prize.

"Very funny" – TLS

Money, 1984

A hedonistic film director's adventures in America captured the zeitgeist of 1980s greed.

A "wonderfully funny book" – Time

London Fields, 1989

Tapped into millennium anxiety as a woman searches for her own killer.

"A virtuoso depiction of a wild and lustful society" – The New York Times

Time's Arrow, 1991

Written in reverse chronology, the story of a German doctor who experimented on Jews during the Holocaust was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

"Amis's most daring and ambitious novel" – The Daily Telegraph

Misses

The Information, 1995

The story of two novelist friends – one successful, one not – received mixed reviews.

"A pumped cruiserweight, flashy, fast, brave and hopelessly overmatched" – The Independent

Night Train, 1997

Crime novella featuring a female detective that was criticised by John Updike for a misplaced use of American vernacular.

"A marking of time, replete with the usual staged set pieces" – The Guardian

Yellow Dog, 2003

The tale of the actor son of a London gangster provoked so much derision that Amis left the country for Uruguay.

"A further plummeting in his literary trajectory" – The Times

The Pregnant Widow, 2010

Analysis of the pressures the sexual revolution placed on women, partly based on his sister, who committed suicide in 2000.

A "thumping disappointment" – The Irish Times

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions