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'


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


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
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements