Ian McEwan has paid tribute to his late friend Martin Amis.
The author behind acclaimed novels like London Fields And Money died of esophageal cancer at the age of 73, his wife, writer Isabel Fonseca, announced on Sunday (May 21).
After the news of Amis’ death, literary figures such as Salman Rushdie and Jonathan Coe honored the author.
McEwan is the latest author to praise Americans by appearing on BBC Radio 4 Today Program.
The atonement Mourning the 49-year friendship with Amis, the author described his late friend as “very tender, very sweet and very generous.”
McEwan, 74, said: “He was very funny. From the moment we first met, I experienced a kind of conversational wit and liveliness that I had never known in my life.”
When asked if Amis was “terrifying” in real life, McEwan replied that there was “a great tenderness towards Martin that never really made it into the public press.”
“Martin had a knack for often reaching out to the most vulnerable person in a crowded room because he heard about an accident,” McEwan said. “He was wonderful with my own family. As a child, he formed wonderful relationships with them.”
“Martin exudes a great tenderness that never really made it into the public press. He was always seen as the Mick Jagger of literature, which was just stupid.”
A enfant terrible Amis was one of the most important figures in the literary world and regularly caused controversy both with his work and his personal views. During his lifetime, he was accused of misogyny and criticized for his stance on the war in Iraq and his views on Islam after 9/11.
His 1989 novel London Fields was controversially removed from this year’s Booker Prize shortlist after two female judges objected to the treatment of its female characters.
McEwan continued: “Martin struggled with even more cracks than Keith Richards and Mick Jagger combined. Of course he was in a different world, a world full of meanings and also a world full of weird misunderstandings.”
Born in Oxford to celebrated author Kingsley Ami and Hilary Bardwell, Amis is the author of 15 novels, two collections of short stories and seven non-fiction books, including his 2000 memoir Experience.
Of Amis’s literary prowess, Amis said, “He really was one of those writers who really cares about the sentence.” He had a real dedication to making things right. He wasn’t just thinking about the typewriter.
“The work ranges from the beautiful, extraordinary misunderstandings of the bedroom, to the distortion and horrificity of the tabloids, to the humiliation of Stalinism and the Holocaust, which Martin read constantly about throughout his life.”
He later called Amis “an editor’s dream.”
McEwan said of Amis’s final years that the author “read the world’s press” up until his death.
“There was something about his final days that said something about his life as long as he was able to get through all the medication he had to take and the horrific suppression of his illness. When he was prepared for the day, he read aloud,” McEwan said.
“When he died he was nearing the end of Robert Tombs’ English story, which we’ve talked about a lot. He is a passionate writer but also a passionate reader. Some of his best non-fiction is his essays… I think that was key to Martin’s attention to the phrase.”
Amis leaves behind Fonseca and his five children.