Martin Amis  

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"A week after the attack, one is free to taste the bile of its atrocious ingenuity. It is already trite but stringently necessary to emphasise that such a mise en scene would have embarrassed a studio executive's storyboard …" --The Second Plane (2008) by Martin Amis

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Martin Amis (1949 – 2023) was a British novelist, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter. He was best known for his novels Money (1984) and London Fields (1989).

Time's Arrow (1991) told its story backwards, dialog and all.


Comments on Islam (2006 interview controversy)

On the day after the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot came to light, Amis was interviewed by The Times Magazine about community relations in Britain and the "threat" from Muslims; he was quoted as saying: "What can we do to raise the price of them doing this? 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.' What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation – further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan ... Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children ... It's a huge dereliction on their part".

The interview provoked immediate controversy, much of it played out in the pages of The Guardian newspaper. The Marxist critic Terry Eagleton, in the 2007 introduction to his work Ideology, singled out and attacked Amis for this particular quote, saying that this view is "[n]ot the ramblings of a British National Party thug, [...] but the reflections of Martin Amis, leading luminary of the English metropolitan literary world". In a highly critical Guardian article, entitled "The absurd world of Martin Amis", satirist Chris Morris likened Amis to the Muslim cleric Abu Hamza (who was jailed for inciting racial hatred in 2006), suggesting that both men employed "mock erudition, vitriol and decontextualised quotes from the Qu'ran" to incite hatred.

Elsewhere, Amis was especially careful to distinguish between Islam and radical Islamism, stating that: "We can begin by saying, not only that we respect Muhammad, but that no serious person could fail to respect Muhammad – a unique and luminous historical being ... Judged by the continuities he was able to set in motion, Muhammad has strong claims to being the most extraordinary man who ever lived... But Islamism? No, we can hardly be asked to respect a creedal wave that calls for our own elimination ... Naturally we respect Islam. But we do not respect Islamism, just as we respect Muhammad and do not respect Mohamed Atta.

On terrorism, Amis wrote that he suspected "there exists on our planet a kind of human being who will become a Muslim in order to pursue suicide-mass murder", and added: "I will never forget the look on the gatekeeper's face, at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, when I suggested, perhaps rather airily, that he skip some calendric prohibition and let me in anyway. His expression, previously cordial and cold, became a mask; and the mask was saying that killing me, my wife, and my children was something for which he now had warrant."

His views on radical Islamism earned him the contentious sobriquet "Blitcon" (British literary neoconservative) from Ziauddin Sardar, who labelled Amis as such in the New Statesman. (The New Statesman article also levelled the "Blitcon" accusation at Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.)



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