Shortlisted for the Booker Prize
Martin Amis is the author of two collections of stories, six works of non-fiction and fourteen novels, most recently The Zone of Interest.
For decades, writers have been striving to comprehend the Holocaust, and while its horror remains indelible, readers may wonder if there is another way of going over this relentlessly examined ground. In this swift, incisive little book, Amis succeeds in rendering the shock of the Holocaust wholly new by traveling backward in time. At the end of his life, the German-born American doctor Tod T. Friendly suffers a paralysis from which emerges ``the soul he should have had.'' This innocent soul follows ``time's arrow'' back through Tod's stay in America and his flight to Germany, finally arriving at the concentration camp where Friendly, as Odilo Unverdorben, served as a doctor of death. Trying to discover ``when the world is going to make sense,'' the confused if patient soul watches as the doctor injures the healed, revives Jews who have been gassed, and grows closer to his estranged wife. It concludes, ``We all know by now that violence creates, here on earth . . . it heals and mends.'' Amis's device, which at first seems merely a clever conceit, is handled so skillfully that living backwards becomes not only natural but a perfect metaphor for the Nazis' perverted logic. If he can't finally probe to the bottom of a mind that embraces atrocities, Amis has nevertheless written a thought-provoking, compelling book. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91.--Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
"Amis's backwards world is rigorously imagined. It is a world of pathos and cruel hilarity - but the crux, the test of his vision, is what he does with Auschwitz" -- James Wood * Guardian *
"The devastatingly sustained black irony stands comparison with Swift's A Modest Proposal. It is, I think, Amis's finest achievement to date" * Financial Times *
"Extraordinary - Ironic inversion is essentially a comic device, but its trickery here yields results that are rigorously grave" * Independent on Sunday *
"An icy, hard read - Amis is at his intriguing, powerful and heedful best" * Time Out *
"Amis's most daring and ambitious novel" * Daily Telegraph *