Lafayette will present “An Evening with Martin Amis” 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Colton Chapel. The talk will be followed by a book signing and reception in the Faculty Dining Room, Marquis Hall.
Amis will read from his work and engage in conversation about his work and the life of the late Christopher Hitchens.
Called “Britain’s greatest living English author” by some and “the current father of English letters” by others, Amis is the author of 13 novels, two collections of stories, five collections of non-fiction, and a memoir.
In 2008, The Times of London named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. His memoir, Experience, published in 2000, was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Given for fiction and biography, the Black Prizes are Britain’s oldest literary awards. Two of his works have been listed for the Booker Prize as the best novel of the year, Time’s Arrow, in 1991, and Yellow Dog, in 2003.
Amis’ latest novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England, was published in 2012.
“In his eyes, [England] rather differs from the country on glorious display during the Summer Olympics and, months before that, in the queen’s Diamond Jubilee,” wrote Mira Sethi in the Wall Street Journal. “The England in Mr. Amis’s withering portrait is a cultural dystopia where an irredeemable thug is catapulted to national prominence after winning the lottery. Thus does modern Britain reward lethal criminality and proud ignorance with unearned riches.”
“It is a book of lovehate. It is a powershake. And the biggest joy is that Amis seems to find himself (and finds us, by extension) loving the thing he loathes,” wrote Nicola Barker in The Guardian. “It is a great big confidence trick of a novel—an attack that turns into an embrace—a book that looks at us, laughs at us, looks at us harder, closer, and laughs at us harder and still more savagely. It is every inch the novel that we all deserve. So let’s give thanks that Martin Amis was bad enough and brave enough to write it.”
Hitchens, the British author and journalist who was Amis’ best friend, died in December 2011 at age 62. Since that time, Amis has spoken frequently about him in interviews and lectures. He told Peter Stevenson of the New York Times last June that Hitchens “is always appearing in my dreams. Not with anything particular to say. He’s just around the place.”
Hitchens was “too intelligent to be a novelist,” Amis told Jacob Weisburg of Slate magazine last August.
“You need a bit of stupidity to be a novelist, and a bit of innocence. You need everyman kind of qualities, Forrest Gump kind of qualities. And he didn’t have that,” Amis said. “You can be too brainy to write fiction in that you’ll write a sentence and you’ll think of so many objections to it that you tie yourself up in knots. That’s why, if you don’t start in your 20s, you’re probably never going to start. Those objections to every proposition you come up with will multiply, and self-consciousness will set in. You’ve got to go at it when you’re brave and stupid and young.”
The event is sponsored by the Office of the President.