Posts From Author: the zone of interest

Love in the Time of Genocide

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014; 320pp …how did “a sleepy country of poets and dreamers,” and the most highly educated nation the earth had ever seen, how did it yield to such wild, such fantastic disgrace? What made its people, men and women, consent to having their souls raped — and raped by a eunuch (Grofaz: the virgin Priapus, the teetotal Dionysus, the vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex)? Where did it come from, the need for such a methodical, such a pedantic, and such a literal exploration of the bestial? These are the questions that orbit the singularity at the center of twentieth-century history. In his second Holocaust novel, The Zone of Interest, Martin Amis sketches a few possible answers while acknowledging — in a thoughtful afterword — that we nevertheless “know almost nothing about the why.” In Time’s Arrow (1991), his first foray into this particular zone of interest, the Holocaust is glimpsed obliquely — like the Medusa reflected in Perseus’s shield — through the lens of Amis’s formal fireworks. The action happens in reverse: people spring to life and are packed on trains that take them away from concentration camps; relationships begin with rows and end […]
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Re Martin Amis

Martin Amis was doubled on Saturday night at the New School. He was appearing as part of the tenth annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, established by his great friend Salman Rushdie, who had a front-row seat for the occasion. Stage left was the real Amis, head cocked and battle-ready; opposite him sat interviewer and critic John Freeman; and between them was actor Anatol Yusef, who spoke only the historical Amis’s words, taken from interviews conducted since the 1970s in Interview magazine. The concept was simple but rather brilliant: Freeman would interview Amis-past and -present interactively, with Amis-present annotating, approving or contradicting his earlier selves. It was fascinating to watch. Starting with The Rachel Papers (1973), Amis’s writing was inevitably compared with that of his father, Kingsley, whose most famous books include comic classic Lucky Jim and The Old Devils, winner of the 1986 Booker Prize. “I still think it delegitimises me in a weird way, having a writer-father,” said Amis-present, who’s written thirteen novels, several collections of short fiction and a wealth of criticism and social commentary. “I’m like Prince Charles, who talks with this sort of ex cathedra authority based on absolutely nothing at all. With me, everyone slightly suspects I got […]
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