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

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there