Brooklynite Martin Amis Returns to Holocaust Horrors in His Latest Book, The Zone of Interest
First Sighting... Across a Crowded Room
As I make my way up the steps, moving quickly past the two magnificent lions standing guard at the New York Public Library (NYPL), I'm only thinking, "I'm late! I'm late!" I glide through the revolving doors into the Library, but am halted by the security officers, ever vigilant in the Astor Hall foyer. As I wait in the queue, I see a large crowd gathered under the ornate Astor Hall arch. My anxiety rises. Is this where I'll find the book discussion with The Zone of Interest author Martin Amis? Everyone's standing! With security nodding my release, I work my way around the periphery of what looks like a four-row deep crush of people.
Then, as I try to politely nudge my way deeper into the layers, I suddenly catch sight of him: A thin, slight, silver-gray haired man perched on a stool, holding a microphone, listening intently to a woman, who is facing him. I glance back and find a sign: Books at Noon: Martin Amis, author, The Zone of Interest.
Second Sighting... Following the Crowd
Amis and NYPL host Jessica Strand's half-hour conversation is drawing to a close, confirming my late arrival. The crowd slowly parts, nearly half heading to the hallway for the book signing.
Author Martin Amis talking with New York Public Library host Jessica Strand. Photo Credit: Luvon Roberson/What's The 411 Networks
As I re-calibrate from anxiety to disappointment to a muted anger, I also keep my eye on the growing line, quickly moving into follow-the-crowd mode. We find Amis seated at a table and already graciously signing copies of "The Zone of Interest." I stand, just beyond his peripheral vision. Guilty.
Author Martin Amis signing copies of his latest novel, The Zone of Interest. Photo Credit: Luvon Roberson/What's The 411 Networks
Woman patiently waiting for author Martin Amis to sign a copy of her book. Photo Credit: Luvon Roberson/What's The 411 Networks
Still, perhaps like a few of those many dozens of people waiting to touch his hand, voice their appreciation for his book, or simply hand over their book for signing, I'm also holding the trauma of The Zone of Interest.
Snippets & Other Insights
The Zone of Interest, revisits the town of Auschwitz, more specifically The Zone of Interest, which contains one of the death camps and the headquarters and domiciles of its Nazi staffers and assistants, a "dumping ground for 2nd-rate blunderers," as its commandant wryly observes.
As we approach the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Holocaust, among all its other perverse distinctions, has become the most widely discussed genocide in history.... Now, in The Zone of Interest, Martin Amis spins out a love story between a midlevel Nazi functionary and the camp commandant's wife, with a member of the Sonderkommando — the prisoners charged with cleaning out the gas chambers and disposing of the bodies — as onlooker.
About the Author from NYPL.org
Martin Amis comes to Books at Noon to discuss his latest work, The Zone of Interest
Martin Amis was born in Swansea, Wales, and educated at Exeter College, Oxford. He is the author of twelve previous novels, including The Rachel Papers, Money, London Fields and The Pregnant Widow. He is also the author of the memoir Experience, two collections of short stories and six books of non-fiction, including The Second Plane. He was literary editor of The New Statesman and served as the Professor of Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester until 2011. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the writer Isabel Fonseca, and their children.
Make the most of your lunch hour and come to The New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Wednesdays this fall for Books at Noon, a series of free midday conversations with acclaimed authors. Books at Noon events are standing room only and take place under the center arch in historic Astor Hall. An audience Q&A and book-signing will follow each half-hour program. Check out Books at Noon for more information.