Martin Amis: Lionel Asbo: State of England

(3000 words)

Lionel Asbo: State of England is Martin Amis’s thirteenth novel and its title character joins John Self, of Money (1984), and Keith Talent of London Fields (1989), in that gallery of gargantuan grotesques for which Amis is particularly known. Like Self and Talent, Lionel can be seen to embody wider social developments, and the subtitle of this novel emphasizes his emblematic quality: in some sense he stands for the degraded “state of England”. Amis had previously used this phrase as the title of one of the short stories collected in Heavy Water (1998); that story’s uncouth protagonist, Mal Bale, suffers some similar social humiliations to Lionel when he encounters the upper classes. But Lionel is more …

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Tredell, Nicolas. "Lionel Asbo: State of England". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 June 2012
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]