The zone of interest

Martin Amis

Book - 2014

"From one of England's most renowned authors, an unforgettable new novel that provides a searing portrait of life-and, shockingly, love-in a concentration camp. Once upon a time there was a king, and the king commissioned his favorite wizard to create a magic mirror. This mirror didn't show you your reflection. It showed you your soul-it showed you who you really were. The wizard couldn't look at it without turning away. The king couldn't look at it. The courtiers coul...dn't look at it. A chestful of treasure was offered to anyone who could look at it for sixty seconds without turning away. And no one could. The Zone of Interest is a love story with a violently unromantic setting. Can love survive the mirror? Can we even meet each other's eye, after we have seen who we really are? In a novel powered by both wit and pathos, Martin Amis excavates the depths and contradictions of the human soul"--

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Subjects
Genres
Romance fiction
Historical fiction
Published
New York : Knopf 2014.
Edition
First United States edition
Language
English
Physical Description
306 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780385353496
0385353499
Main Author
Martin Amis (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* How to write fiction about the Holocaust that reveals in new and significant ways its systematic horror and impossible legacy? Amis accomplished this feat in Time's Arrow (1991), and now this brainy, intrepid, worldly, and virtuosic writer does it again in his fourteenth novel by ushering us into the poisoned minds of characters trapped in the death-spiral of the Final Solution. Well-connected Thomsen looks like a quintessential Aryan, yet seduction, not terror, is his calling. But surely it's too risky, even for him, to woo Hannah, the statuesque wife of the repugnant concentration camp commandant with the ridiculous last name of Doll. Doll is slowly and inexorably going to pieces trying to manage the logistical nightmare of disposing of thousands of corpses. Szmul, a Jew, has been kept alive to work on this gruesome assembly line, a hell he endures by "bearing witness" and, occasionally, saving lives. These three men take turns narrating Amis' slyly sinister comedy of manners and romantic intrigue, a wily collision of content and form that neatly exposes the malignant madness at loose in the Third Reich. By focusing on the inner lives of reluctant perpetrators, Amis broaches the perpetual mystery of why people colluded in the monstrous efforts required for industrialized genocide. An audaciously satiric and brilliantly realized tale about personal angst and mass psychosis, and the immolation of self and soul. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Each of Amis' novels is a crowd-luring high-wire act, and following the success of Lionel Asbo (2012), this book will be much sought-after and dissected. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

As he did so inventively in Time's Arrow, Amis examines the horrors of the Holocaust from inside the hearts and minds of its perpetrators and their enablers. Taking place in the most notorious concentration camp, the book introduces a cast of characters that includes the officious Commandant, Paul Doll, an alcoholic tyrant thriving on petty vindictiveness; Golo Thomsen, the well-placed nephew of Martin Bormann, tasked with building a rubber production plant inside the camp; and the Jewish Szmul, a former teacher, victimized into collaborating with his tormentors. For these people, daily life consists of endless trains to unload, "welcome" addresses to deliver, and selections to be made. Life is also full of small annoyances (the ubiquitous smell from the crematoria) and major difficulties (the unimaginable scale of the task). Improbably, this is also a love story between Golo Thomsen and Hannah Doll, wife of the commandant. VERDICT A haunting indictment of the people who willingly bought the party line of racial purity and ethnic cleansing, this novel is as audacious as it is chilling. Essential reading.—Barbara Love, formerly with Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. [Page 84]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

An absolute soul-crusher of a book, the brilliant latest from Amis (Lionel Asbo: State of England) is an astoundingly bleak love story, as it were, set in a German concentration camp, which Thomsen, one of the book's three narrators, refers to as Kat Zet. Thomsen, the nephew of Hitler's private secretary, Martin Bormann, has a vague role as a liaison at Buna Werke, where the Germans are attempting to synthesize oil for the war effort using slave labor. He sets his sights on Hannah Doll, wife of camp commandant Paul, who is the second of three narrators as well as a drunk whose position is under threat. As Thomsen gets closer with Hannah, both of them, horrified at what's going on, conspire to undermine Paul—Hannah at home and Thomsen around the camp. Paul, meanwhile, follows up his suspicions about his wife and Thomsen by involving Szmul, the book's third narrator and a Jew who disposes of the corpses in the gas chamber, in a revenge plot. Amis took on the Holocaust obliquely in Time's Arrow. Here he goes at it straight, and the result is devastating. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From one of England's most renowned authors, an unforgettable new novel that provides a searing portrait of life-and, shockingly, love-in a concentration camp. Once upon a time there was a king, and the king commissioned his favorite wizard to create amagic mirror. This mirror didn't show you your reflection. It showed you your soul-it showed you who you really were. The wizard couldn't look at it without turning away. The king couldn't look at it. The courtiers couldn't look at it. A chestful of treasure was offered to anyone who could look at it for sixty seconds without turning away. And no one could. The Zone of Interest is a love story with a violently unromantic setting. Can love survive the mirror? Can we even meet each other's eye, after we have seen who we really are? In a novel powered by both wit and pathos, Martin Amis excavates the depths and contradictions of the human soul"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A portrait of life and unexpected love in a concentration camp explores the depths and contradictions of the human soul as well as the capacity of individuals who are tested to acknowledge their true selves.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A searing portrait of life and unexpected love in a concentration camp explores the depths and contradictions of the human soul as well as the capacity of individuals who are tested to acknowledge their true selves. By the author of Time's Arrow. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Once upon a time there was a king, and the king commissioned his favorite wizard to create a magic mirror. This mirror didn’t show you your reflection. It showed you your soul—it showed you who you really were.The wizard couldn’t look at it without turning away. The king couldn’t look at it. The courtiers couldn’t look at it. A chestful of treasure was offered to anyone who could look at it for sixty seconds without turning away. And no one could.The Zone of Interest is a love story with a violently unromantic setting. Can love survive the mirror? Can we even meet each other’s eye, after we have seen who we really are?Powered by both wit and compassion, and in characteristically vivid prose, Martin Amis’s unforgettable new novel excavates the depths and contradictions of the human soul.