They say that you should never judge a book by its cover.
But the jacket image of Martin Amis‘ new novel, coming out in the Jubilee week, combined with its title Lionel Asbo, does suggest that this ‘state of the nation’ novel is not going to be a particularly joyful account of contemporary England.
Its hero, Lionel Asbo, a violent criminal who wins the lottery while in prison, appears flanked by bulldogs against a St George’s Flag backdrop. Another character is said to be loosely based on Katie Price, the glamour model formerly known as Jordan.
Publishing sources have described the book as a ‘devastating’ critique which is ‘savage in its portrayal of the modern world’. The author is expected to present a ‘dispiriting’ vision of a Britain in which teenagers are routinely pregnant — though perhaps the author of The War Against Cliche will choose to surprise us at least a little in the detail.
Published on 7 June 2012, Amis’ dystopian vision of a broken Britain could be just the thing to cheer the nation up, as we return from the Diamond Jubilee double bank holiday, and as London prepares to host the Olympic Games.
‘It’s a book about the decline of my country, about the rage, the dissatisfaction, the bitterness, all unconscious, caused by this decline … One can have the impression that life in London is pretty pleasant. But all is rotten inside,’ the author told a French newspaper last year.
Anybody else who was thinking of competing for a gold medal in the usually hotly contested field for Britain’s chief miserabilist of 2012 will find Amis very hard to beat.