British novelist Martin Amis dies aged 73
Martin Amis has died at the age of 73. He was one of Britain’s most celebrated novelists.
The New York Times reported that he died from oesophageal carcinoma at his Florida house, citing his wife Isabel Fonseca, a writer.
Amis is best known for his 1984 novel Money and the 1989 work London Fields.
He wrote dozens of non-fiction and fiction books and was widely considered to be one of the most influential authors of his time.
Born in 1949 in Oxford, he was the son of the novelist and poet Kingsley Amis. The younger Amis followed in his father’s footsteps with his first novel, the Rachel Papers.
It was published in 1973, while he worked at the Times Literary Supplement. The story follows the adventures of a young boy in London just before he goes to university. This book won the Somerset Maugham Award.
Amis published a number of notable works including Money, London Fields, and Time’s Arrow. He was also contemporary with other celebrated writers such as James Fenton and Salman Rushdie.
His close relationship with the journalist Christopher Hitchens, who died of oesophageal cancer in 2011, was well-documented.
They belonged to a colorful set that reinvigorated the British literary scene and has been credited with inspiring a generation of younger writers.
Rushdie paid tribute to Amis, telling the New Yorker: “He used to say that what he wanted to do was leave behind a shelf of books – to be able to say, “from here to here, it’s me. His voice is silent now. His friends will miss him terribly. But we have the shelf.”
Amis’s work was often characterized by its darkly comic subject matter and satire. He frequently returned to the subject of the Holocaust throughout his career.
He also wrote two short story collections, six non-fiction books, and a memoir. He was known as a public intellectual and an often controversial commentator on current affairs and politics.
Money became his most acclaimed work and is often cited as a defining novel of the 1980s.
The book, set in New York and London, follows a director of adverts as he attempts to make his first feature film, and was based on Amis’s own time as a scriptwriter on Saturn 3, a widely-panned sci-fi film starring Kirk Douglas.
Amis, who moved from London to the US in 2012, published a memoir, Experience, in 2000. His most recent novel, Inside Story, was published in 2020.
His friend Zachary Leader, a literary critic, said Mr. Amis was “charming and very generous” but “much bothered by his success”.
“I mean his life was a series of invitations, many of which he turned down, and not all of which he turned down with the kind of good grace he would show to his friends. He wasn’t curmudgeonly with the people he liked, I think he tried his best,” Mr Leader told the BBC.
His UK editor at Vintage Books, Michal Shavit, said: “It’s hard to imagine a world without Martin Amis in it. He was the king – a stylist extraordinaire, super cool, a brilliantly witty, erudite, and fearless writer, and a truly wonderful man.
“He has been so important and formative for so many readers and writers over the last half-century.”
In a statement, Penguin Books said: “We are devastated at the death of our author and friend, Martin Amis. Our thoughts are with all his family and loved ones, especially his children and wife Isobel.
“He leaves a towering legacy and an indelible mark on the British cultural landscape, and will be missed enormously.”
The Twitter account of the Booker Prize posted: “We are saddened to hear that Martin Amis, one of the most acclaimed and discussed novelists of the past 50 years, has died. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Time’s Arrow was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and his 2003 novel Yellow Dog was longlisted.