Martin Amis: five best nonfiction books to explore

Martin Amis: five best nonfiction books to explore

by Suswati Basu

Martin Amis, who passed away aged 73 on Friday 19 May, was a highly acclaimed British author known for his fiction and nonfiction books. While he is most famous for his novels, he has also written several engaging and thought-provoking nonfiction books.

Amis was no stranger to controversy. He has been accused of Islamophobia, which he vehemently denied in an article for the Guardian. Not to mention the themes he covered ranged from Stalinism, to having a friendship with the equally antitheistic writer Christopher Hitchens.

Who was Martin Amis?

Martin Amis was known for his distinctive writing style, dark humour, and exploration of contemporary social and cultural themes. He is considered one of the leading figures of the British literary movement known as the "New Realism" or the "New Fiction," which emerged in the 1980s.

He gained significant acclaim with his early novels, including "The Rachel Papers" (1973), which won the Somerset Maugham Award, and "Money" (1984), a satirical portrayal of 1980s excesses and materialism. Some of his other notable works include "London Fields" (1989), "Time's Arrow" (1991), "The Information" (1995), and "House of Meetings" (2006).

Amis's writing often explored themes such as identity, sexuality, politics, and the nature of evil. His works are characterised by their sharp wit, intricate wordplay, and complex characters. He has been praised for his ability to capture the zeitgeist and his sharp observations of contemporary society.

Apart from his novels, Amis had also written non-fiction works, including literary criticism, memoirs, and essays. He has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Booker Prize shortlist.

Best nonfiction books:

Here are some of the best nonfiction books by Martin Amis:

1. “Experience” (2000). In this memoir, Amis reflects on his life, relationships, and experiences. He delves into his childhood, his relationship with his famous father Kingsley Amis, and his own writing career. It’s a personal and introspective book that offers insights into the author’s life and the writing process.

2. “Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million” (2002). This book combines history, literary criticism, and personal reflection. Amis explores the legacy of Joseph Stalin, examining the atrocities committed during his rule and the complicity of Western intellectuals who turned a blind eye to his crimes. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking examination of the dark side of human history.

3. “The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000” (2001). This collection brings together Amis’s literary criticism, essays, and book reviews spanning three decades. It covers a wide range of topics, from classic literature to contemporary writers, providing insightful and often humorous commentary. It’s an excellent book for those interested in Amis’s literary tastes and his perspective on various authors and works.

4. “Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: And Other Excursions” (1994). In this collection of essays, Amis explores diverse subjects such as the life and work of Vladimir Nabokov, the nature of evil, and the allure of pornography. The essays showcase Amis’s wit, intellectual curiosity, and keen observations, making it a captivating read for fans of his writing.

5. “The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America” (1986). Amis offers a satirical and critical examination of American culture, politics, and society in this collection of essays. From Hollywood to Las Vegas, he dissects various aspects of American life with his signature style, blending humor, insight, and social commentary.

These are just a few of Martin Amis’s notable nonfiction works. Each book offers a unique perspective and showcases his talents as a writer, thinker, and cultural commentator. Check out works by bell hooks, another incredible thinker who has passed away.

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