I don’t always like Martin Amis’s novels, but I almost always find them really interesting (more interesting than his father’s work, if I must confess). He knows how to create a wild, colorful story with characters to match and The Zone of Interest is one that I think will stick with me long after reading it.
If you’ve never read Amis, this is honestly one of his most approachable works. The Zone of Interest takes a look at what it would have been like to work at a concentration camp (no, really), from the German perspective. It takes three perspectives: officer Angelus (Golo) Thomsen, the nephew of a prominent Nazi official; Commandant Paul Doll whose marriage has taken a sour turn; and header of the Sonderkommando Szmul, who is tasked with sending other Jews to the gas chamber. It is a ludicrous, darkly funny, and nastily honest novel. Pure Amis–at his finest.
Martin Amis is great at deducing the follies of humanity and making fun of them (this is where Jane Austen’s influence on his writing becomes most apparent). He’s also great at illuminating the social problems of a time period and fleshing out the corruption and hypocrisy rampant in our world (this is Dickens’ influence on his writing. Also, his previous novel, Lionel Asbo, is great at sussing out this wicked world we live in). His deconstruction of human nature and the evils present in our collective psyches is also adroitly addressed, and this is a trait he gleans from Nabokov and Tolstoy. He’s not always an approachable writer, but The Zone of Interest, is entertaining, provocative, and well worth the time. I highly recommend it.
*I should also note that as a contemporary British and American scholar, this is the kind of book I enjoy reading. You may not share the enthusiasm I had for it, or for Amis in general. This is my disclaimer to you.*