Contemporary Fiction: The Zone of Interest, by Martin Amis.

­

Martin Amis has a difficult subject here, but it’s not the first time he’s novelized a concentration camp – the central character in Time’s Arrow (1991) is a Nazi doctor in Auschwitz; House of Meetings (2006) is about a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag. In The Zone of Interest, Amis is back at Auschwitz (not named as such in the novel, but immediately recognizable and accurately rendered). And in this instance he cannot rely on the main device of Time’s Arrow – regarded variously by reviewers as either a well-executed party trick or an extraordinary coup – of telling the entire story in reverse, down to the tiniest details of the daily routine. (This reviewer falls into the latter camp regarding Time’s Arrow; it is well worth re-reading.)

In The Zone of Interest, Amis has made significant progress in his own understanding, as he discusses in his Afterword, which is one of the most fascinating parts of the book (though not technically part of the novel at all). Amis read extensively (the bibliography is staggering) and reached only the “negative eureka” conclusion that the Holocaust is simply beyond understanding. But in 2011 he encountered an addendum in a new edition of Primo Levi’s The Truce: an answer to a reader’s question, “How can the Nazi’s fanatical hatred of the Jews be explained?” Levi suggested that perhaps this hatred cannot and even ought not be explained, since an explanation implies a rationale. (“To understand is almost to justify.”) And neither can one say the Nazis were simply insane – this excuses them. So perhaps the Nazis are beyond any understanding we can reach of them as humans: they are inhuman or actually un-human.

Amis has no doubt this answer will seem to historians an evasion; for him it acted as a “spur” – not to understand, humanize or rationalize, but to find a new story in one of the most storied of all chapters in what Churchill finely called a tyranny “never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime.”

Amis is here as well deprived of one of his greatest standards – his own voice. Which is only to say that he rotates through three different narrators: an awakening Nazi official, the camp commandant, and the Jewish head sonderkommando. He gives each narrator his own voice – on the whole beautifully done – but must therefore reign in the extremes of his own visual (yes, visual) virtuosity. Occasionally he can’t help himself – the camp commandant feels a certain fear as “a vacuum in my solar plexus, like a globe of hard air.” This is an extraordinary phrase; on reading it, I felt finally in possession of something long searched for. But one can hardly hear it passing through the mind of the character in question.

I have rarely read a book that produced a more intense (in this case almost euphoric) desire to speak with its author. It left me in a questioning state of mind. I will have to read it again before I can be sure what to make of it, but there is a depth in this work that will repay the re-reading.

Entertainingness: 8/10

Prose: 9/10

Intriguingness: 9/10

Unusuality: 9/10

Overall Goodness Rating (OGR): 8/10

The Zone of Interest, by Martin Amis.  Knopf, 2014. 306 pages.

440 thoughts on “Contemporary Fiction: The Zone of Interest, by Martin Amis.

  1. Like you, I very much feel a second reading is in order for me to get to grips with this book! I like Amis but this was very different from his usual fare, I felt. I was lucky enough to meet him at an event a few months ago, but got only a few words with him. He is someone who it’d be great to have a drink and a proper chat with!

    My review: The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

  2. Pingback: Buy real viagra
  3. Pingback: cialis canada
  4. Pingback: generic for cialis
  5. Pingback: cialis cost
  6. Pingback: Buy cheap viagra
  7. Pingback: cialis 20
  8. Pingback: buy ciprofloxacin
  9. Pingback: price of cialis
  10. Pingback: how much is cialis
  11. Pingback: viagra for sale
  12. Pingback: viagra for sale
  13. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  14. Pingback: best otc ed pills
  15. Pingback: pharmacy online
  16. Pingback: Get cialis
  17. Pingback: Buy cialis online
  18. Pingback: levitra 20mg
  19. Pingback: online levitra
  20. Pingback: order levitra
  21. Pingback: buy cialis
  22. Pingback: short term loans
  23. Pingback: cash payday
  24. Pingback: viagra cost
  25. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  26. Pingback: ruben
  27. Pingback: slot machine games
  28. Pingback: generic cialis
  29. Pingback: generic for cialis
  30. Pingback: cialis generic
  31. Pingback: cialis 20
  32. Pingback: real casino
  33. Pingback: casinos online
  34. Pingback: viagra generic
  35. Pingback: viagra cheap
  36. Pingback: free casino games
  37. Pingback: order viagra
  38. Pingback: Viagra 25mg canada
  39. Pingback: Viagra 50mg cheap
  40. Pingback: goodrx cialis
  41. Pingback: Viagra 50mg otc
  42. Pingback: cheap Cialis 40mg
  43. Pingback: viagra online
  44. Pingback: viagra dosage
  45. Pingback: buy viagra online
  46. Pingback: viagra cost
  47. Pingback: name brand viagra
  48. Pingback: order atarax 25mg
  49. Pingback: cheap Biaxin 250mg
  50. Pingback: cheap buspar 5 mg
  51. Pingback: cialis 1800
  52. Pingback: catapres usa
  53. Pingback: ceclor cost
  54. Pingback: celexa tablet
  55. Pingback: cephalexin otc
  56. Pingback: casinos
  57. Pingback: gambling games
  58. Pingback: rivers casino
  59. Pingback: abc car insurance
  60. Pingback: rbc car insurance
  61. Pingback: accc car insurance
  62. Pingback: generic cialis
  63. Pingback: carinsurance
  64. Pingback: quick payday loans
  65. Pingback: generic cialis
  66. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  67. Pingback: buy levitra 10 mg
  68. Pingback: viagra buy cheap
  69. Pingback: buy viagra where
  70. Pingback: online homework
  71. Pingback: cheap viagra 100mg
  72. Pingback: essays writing
  73. Pingback: essay buy
  74. Pingback: viagra online rx
  75. Pingback: clonidine tablets
  76. Pingback: Buy online viagra
  77. Pingback: cialis price uk
  78. Pingback: cialis online
  79. Pingback: cozaar 25 mg pills
  80. Pingback: viagra sales uk
  81. Pingback: thesis advice
  82. Pingback: cheapest dramamine
  83. Pingback: etodolac pharmacy
  84. Pingback: mail order cialis
  85. Pingback: hyzaar 12,5 mg usa
  86. Pingback: generic viagra
  87. Pingback: cheap imitrex 50mg
  88. Pingback: imodium tablets
  89. Pingback: check my blog
  90. Pingback: Look At This
  91. Pingback: indocin 75 mg uk
  92. Pingback: lamisil 250 mg nz
  93. Pingback: luvox online
  94. Pingback: macrobid online
  95. Pingback: meclizine tablet
  96. Pingback: mestinon 60mg cost
  97. Pingback: micardis pills
  98. Pingback: mobic prices
  99. Pingback: Dilantin
  100. Pingback: motrin online
  101. Pingback: order phenergan
  102. Pingback: provigil purchase
  103. Pingback: viagra pills cheap
  104. Pingback: cheap reglan 10mg
  105. Pingback: remeron pharmacy
  106. Pingback: robaxin usa
  107. Pingback: rogaine australia
  108. Pingback: skelaxin tablet
  109. Pingback: tenormin prices
  110. Pingback: thorazine cost
  111. Pingback: toprol pills
  112. Pingback: valtrex 500 mg uk
  113. Pingback: voltaren pharmacy
  114. Pingback: YOURURL.com
  115. Pingback: cost of zocor
  116. Pingback: buy zovirax
  117. Pingback: order viagra 75mg
  118. Pingback: buy zyvox
  119. Pingback: pioglitazone cheap
  120. Pingback: citalopram usa
  121. Pingback: cephalexin tablet
  122. Pingback: cialis sale 20mg
  123. Pingback: to buy viagra
  124. Pingback: trazodone price
  125. Pingback: tolterodine usa
  126. Pingback: phenytoin prices
  127. Pingback: cost of oxybutynin
  128. Pingback: 141generic2Exare
  129. Pingback: qgsnnkok
  130. Pingback: cialis
  131. Pingback: cialis soft tablet
  132. Pingback: propranolol prices
  133. Pingback: amoxicillin 500 mg
  134. Pingback: augmentin 850 mg
  135. Pingback: ivermectin 80 mg
  136. Pingback: buy gemfibrozil
  137. Pingback: prednisolone 4 mg
  138. Pingback: clomid symptoms
  139. Pingback: thesis for phd
  140. Pingback: propecia ed
  141. Pingback: metformin anxiety

Comment