Will the next ten months see Britain's most controversial novelist finally return to his best?by Tom Chatfield / May 4, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in May 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
These days, Martin Amis is bigger news than his own novels. Martin Amis the political commentator, that is, whose off-the-cuff remarks in a 2006 interview (“There’s a definite urge—don’t you have it?—to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.’ “) have been tinnily echoing around the fourth estate ever since. Then again, these days Martin Amis the political commentator looms a rather larger figure than Amis the novelist. The last twelve years have seen just one novel ( Yellow Dog, in 2003), one novella ( House of Meetings, 2006) and a handful of short stories—compared to four books of non fiction ( Experience, 2000; The War Against Cliché, 2001; Koba the Dread, 2002; The Second Plane, 2008) plus various uncollected prose pieces. Has, as some critics bluntly assume, one of the most important British novelists of the 1980s and 1990s ceased to be a creative force in fiction?
The next ten months promise a partial answer to this question with—hopefully, at least—the publication of his much-delayed latest novel, The Pregnant Widow (its release has just been pushed back to the start of 2010; it has been in the works since 2003, by far the longest writing-time of all Amis’s books). The title refers not to The Pregnant Widow‘s own prolonged gestation, but to an altogether vaster theme: as Amis explains in the second part of his interviews for Prospect, the ph…