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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking. If you let it.
I am still trying to get a clear view of what I think of this novel. I have given it a five-star rating as it is a 'good' and important read; in light of the subject matter, to describe it as 'enjoyable' (e.g., it is engrossing) feels wrong, inappropriate and clumsy, but the fact I read it in one sitting may help explain...
There are uncomfortable feelings about the...
Published 22 days ago by Michael Adams

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Hell: A Holocaust Novel
The Jews have a history of obsession with a domineering God. The entanglement began some four or five thousand years ago and for many it continues still. The God is cosmic in ambition but strangely parochial in its gendered and ethnocentric preferences, and is all but impossible to take seriously in the age of science. This tribal God was inherited by two mainstream...
Published 24 days ago by Andrew Ross


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking. If you let it., 27 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Hardcover)
I am still trying to get a clear view of what I think of this novel. I have given it a five-star rating as it is a 'good' and important read; in light of the subject matter, to describe it as 'enjoyable' (e.g., it is engrossing) feels wrong, inappropriate and clumsy, but the fact I read it in one sitting may help explain...
There are uncomfortable feelings about the approach and some of the characters, but this may be part of the intention. Some of the media reviews have been very negative (perhaps too dismissively), with - it seems - not much space and objectivity between apparent reactions to the book and pre-existing views and opinions about Martin Amis, as a (sometimes controversial and not always likeable) person and author.
I don't doubt the author's motives and sincerity in revisiting the regime and the Holocaust. Do read and think about the 'Acknowledgments and Afterword'. Not least, Amis provides references and sources by which to learn more.
'We' should keep what happened in memory and therefore keep thinking about it. We know what happened, but - just as we should never forget - we may never reach a point (nor should we?) where we can fully explain and understand 'Why?'. Thought provoking - therefore, perhaps, it achieves what Amis seeks?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amis back on form, 28 Aug 2014
By 
Norman Housley (Leicester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Kindle Edition)
S K (26 August) writes exactly what I thought and there is nothing to be gained from repeating the points. This is a remarkable novel, indeed at times brilliant, and it has to be said, on occasion very funny. I did not find that offensive because the humour was dark to put it mildly, and informed by the deeply reflective and serious view of the Holocaust set out in the book's last section.
Above all, the prose is wonderful, engaging the reader and constantly shifting in mood. The author is a master stylist.
This is vintage Amis, one of his best novels.
4.5 ( not 5 because I found the ending slightly disappointing)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, 26 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Hardcover)
There can be no doubt that The Zone of Interest is a marked return to form for Martin Amis. In fact, the novel has revivified his moribund talent. After the tired and fogeyish satire of Lionel Asbo (2012), it seemed the game was up. Yet Amis has regrouped and once again tackled the Holocaust, the focus of his frighteningly clever Time's Arrow (1991), and he has done the subject justice. That's not to say the novel's perfect, because it isn't, but it's certainly a powerful and provocative performance, and one that readmits Amis to the ranks of our pre-eminent literary novelists.

The novel has three first-person narrators: Angelus 'Golo' Thomsen (a Nazi bureaucrat), Paul Doll (camp Commandant), and Szmul (a Jewish prisoner, whose job it is, as a Sonderkommando, to help dispose of the corpses from the gas chambers). There is a fourth character, Hannah Doll (Paul's wife), who is the centre of a love triangle between Golo and Paul, but she is more a symbol than a presence. So, once again, we have an Amis novel exclusively voiced by men. And it's the voices that are most important, because not a lot happens in this book, and the love story is tenuous at best. Yet the meditations by the various characters on, and their increasing realisation of, the depravities of the Nazi regime frequently unsettle the reader, and so it's these we must pay attention to and not the casual plot.

But as with all of Amis's narrators, they all tend to sound the same after a while, and they all tend to represent the trio of perspectives that forever permeate his novels, regardless of their settings. Paul is a complete buffoon, Golo is a bit of a lad, and Szmul is given to reflecting on the human condition. Yet it's the slips in each narrator's voice that are most disconcerting, because Amis can't help inserting a flashy phrase where it really shouldn't be. For instance, Paul is a slavish dunce and one who speaks in the euphemistic terms of the Third Reich (no one is killed, they are simply dealt with in 'the suitable fashion' (p.67)). All of this is convincingly portrayed, but then Amis has him describe an evening's 'salmony sunset and...tumbling rack of clouds' (p.68), which is completely out of character and shatters the philistinism Amis has spent so long constructing.

Nevertheless, it is Szmul who tries, and fails, to explain the industrial turpitude undertaken at Auschwitz - he is the book's soul. In his 'Acknowledgements and Afterword: 'That Which Happened'', Amis reiterates the 'horror...desolation, and...bloody-minded opacity' (p.310) of Auschwitz, and of just how hard it is for us to assimilate what happened. In short, we can't. But Amis has given it a go, and it's a brave attempt to convey the collective madness that disturbingly prevailed at the time. Some will criticise Amis for the inclusion of humour where humour has no place to be, but it is essential, if only to humanise the protagonists. But each laugh must be seen as a transient antidote to the horror that pervades the novel, for it's this horror, this oppressive and unbelievable horror, which renders the book utterly disturbing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary., 15 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Hardcover)
Captivating in such a cruel and macabre way. I have never read anything as 'efficient' in delivering the message of man's inhumanity to man. There are no superlatives left really are there!
I see the similarity between Jonathan Swift's capacity (which Amis shares) to alternate between broad satire and the most menacingly subtle commentary on the hate and the dark and the night.
I will not forget it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “You come to the Zone of Interest and it tells you who you are”, 7 Sep 2014
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Hardcover)
This isn’t, of course, the first time that Amis has grappled with the indecipherable nature of the Holocaust but this is, I think, a better novel than Time’s Arrow. It’s also a very Amis approach to that topic, shot through with the darkest, blackest humour as Kommandant Doll struggles with the ‘nightmare’ job of genocide that the Nazi bureaucrats back in Berlin just won’t understand. But it is also heightened by the desperate and tender narrative of Szmul, the leader of the Sonderkommando, the Jewish prisoners who worked for the Nazis at the camps, and his own struggles to understand whether what he is doing is bearing witness or simply staying alive.

The three main narrative voices are linked through this idea of understanding who – and what – we are, and various characters speak these sentiments, seeing Nazi Germany, or the camps themselves, as the ultimate mirror – and one of the differentiators in the book is who can bear to look himself in the eyes.

There have been some brilliant literary re-engagements with Nazism recently – this isn’t as deep, dark and twisted as The Kindly Ones, or as brilliantly performed and moving as HhHH – but it is one of the best, and possibly the most heartfelt book that Amis has written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A must read - It makes the nazi holocaust even ..., 17 Sep 2014
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Mr. F. CANNING (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Kindle Edition)
A must read - It makes the nazi holocaust even more devastating when you hear it from the germans side.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amis at his best, 22 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Hardcover)
I have just finished this book in one setting. I am disturbed and unable to sleep. Once again Amis puts a mirror to the world and shows us what stares back. A beautiful but haunting book
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Sep 2014
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The finest Amis novel since Time's Arrow I believe.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 26 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Kindle Edition)
A must read... couldn't put it down till the last page was read. Terrifying, grotesque, despairing and darkly comic.... a love story in a time of hatred.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Zone of Interest (Kindle Edition)
Everyone should read this book.
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The Zone of Interest
The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis
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