Louis Amis

The surrealism of war against Isis

The campaign against Isis was pretty big news for most of 2016. But by the time the final showdown got under way in Mosul, it was late October. Western journalism was already departing on a bold new chapter, with great new villains much closer to home. For news consumers, one tableau of confusion and anxiety

To hell in a handcart

An immortal faery queen from a magical gynocratic island arrives in Los Angeles to track down her missing daughter. This is actually the entire plot of a novel entitled Only Americans Burn in Hell. Of course, as in Jarett Kobek’s previous book, I Hate the Internet, the fictional element is a foil, with most of

Manic creations

American mass-incarceration is the most overt object of the ‘protest’ of this novel’s subtitle. The author, Sergio De La Pava, works as a public defender in New York City, and calls on an intimate secondhand knowledge of the many different sorrows to be found in the ripples of a single criminal case. But Lost Empress

Only connect | 30 November 2017

This newly translated novel by the Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina is really two books, spliced together in alternating chapters. One is a deeply researched account of the squalid peregrinations of James Earl Ray, who spent two months on the run after murdering Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. The other is a memoir charting

A unique literary phenomenon

The Argentinian writer César Aira is a prodigy: at the age of 68 he has published, according to a ‘partial bibliography’ on Wikipedia, 67 novels (plus non-fiction, plays and translations into Spanish from four languages). It’s a record made only slightly more believable by the fact that the novels are mostly around 100 pages long.

Do you know who I am?

Anyone looking for a groundbreaking ethnography of the global political elite —the elusive social grouping that western electorates are currently lining up to slap in the face — is likely to be disappointed by this book. In the course of these ‘Misadventures’ it is often stated that, for example, ‘At the UN, the bullshit meter

When in Rome…

‘Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime,’ begins this really very short book (assisted here, in its lumpen-ness, by the ingenious placement of two or three blank pages in between each of its 16 very short chapters). But it is not something scratched

One man’s war through 45 objects

Attempts by soldiers themselves to describe to us our 21st-century wars have come, so far, in a few recognisable varieties: the movie-ready tactical accounts narrated by infallible tough guys, grading into versions of what one Iraq war veteran-writer, Roy Scranton, has termed the ‘myth of the trauma hero’: those dramas of personal suffering that ignore,

A Jamaican civil war, with cameos from Bob Marley

There are many more than seven killings in this ironically titled novel — in fact very long — that starts off set in the Kingston, Jamaica, of the 1970s, amid an efflorescence of political violence. The two major parties, the right-wing Jamaica Labour Party and the left-wing People’s National Party, were pouring guns into West