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House of Meetingsby Martin Amis
"A spare, even austere performance, Amis's striking new novel marks an extension of the dark thread that surfaces in works such as Einstein's Monsters (1987), Time's Arrow (1991) and, most pertinently, the working through of personal and collective animus in Koba the Dread (2002); and if early works such as The Rachel Papers (1973) and Dead Babies (1975) now have a layer of unintentional historical quaintness about them, House of Meetings sees Amis working self-consciously in the mode of historical fiction, to powerful effect." Bharat Tandon, The Times Literary Supplement (read the entire TLS review)
"If gulags don't sound like your idea of fun, be forewarned: Martin Amis's new novel, House of Meetings, is not a fun book....Sometimes the characters get stuck in the fog of tragedy, the prose turning didactic and portentous. (Stalin bad. Got it.) But even when Amis fails, he says things better and more beautifully than anybody else playing the game." Benjamin Alsup, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
An extraordinary novel that ratifies Martin Amis's standing as "a force unto himself," as The Washington Post has attested: "There is, quite simply, no one else like him."
House of Meetings is a love story, gothic in timbre and triangular in shape. In 1946, two brothers and a Jewish girl fall into alignment in pogrom-poised Moscow. The fraternal conflict then marinates in Norlag, a slave-labor camp above the Arctic Circle, where a tryst in the coveted House of Meetings will haunt all three lovers long after the brothers are released. And for the narrator, the sole survivor, the reverberations continue into the new century.
Harrowing, endlessly surprising, epic in breadth yet intensely intimate, House of Meetings reveals once again that "Amis is a stone-solid genius...a dazzling star of wit and insight" (The Wall Street Journal).
"The narrator is a man who's done terrible things and is able to look at them philosophically — a perfect character for a fearless writer like Amis. His prognosis for Russia is grim, but fans of the writer will be gratified by this remarkable return to form." Keir Graff, Booklist (Starred Review)
"House of Meetings is a singular, unimpeachable triumph, as powerful as J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace... [It is] a novel that not so much makes the spine tingle as the heart race at its passion and richness." The Economist
"[House of Meetings] has a cumulative power and resonates with many reflections about the course of individual destiny in a profoundly cruel universe... about the nature of memory and personal responsibility, and the way we are all enslaved by life’s infinite moral complexities." Douglas Kennedy, The Times
"A slight novel in size only, House of Meetings provides an impressively full and frightening look into Stalin’s labour camps... Painful, trenchant, and elegantly written... serious in the best sense, its subject matter pleasingly unpredictable... I read it as slowly as I could [and] savoured every page." Lionel Shriver, The Daily Telegraph
"Unmistakably Amis’s best novel since London Fields... A slender, moving novel, streaked with dark comedy, which investigates how Stalinism exacted a price from its subjects, a price which was 'to be paid, not by the spoonful or the shovelful, but by the dayful, the yearful, the lifefull.'" Robert MacFarlane, Sunday Times
"A novel that doesn't read like any other, ranking as this renowned British author's best....The most compelling fiction from Amis in more than a decade." Kirkus Reviews
"A consistently gripping, concise epic of human atrocity [from] a fearless comic novelist whose career has mined the unholy symbiosis of humor and horror....[Amis] has made it his business to shock that monster of history into life." The Miami Herald
"In its material...House of Meetings reminds us of Dostoyevsky....A whole dome of meanings, a specific emotional world — hunger, desire, disgust, rottenness — rises around us." New Yorker
"Arguably his most powerful book yet....It is a story about fraternal love and resentment, but more important, it is a story about the consequences of survival, and about the connection between public and private betrayals and the human costs of a totalitarian state's policies of internment." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
In 1946, two brothers and a Jewish girl fall into alignment in pogrom-poised Moscow. The fraternal conflict then marinates in Norlag, a slave-labor camp above the Arctic Circle, where a tryst in the coveted House of Meetings will haunt all three lovers long after the brothers are released.
About the Author
Martin Amis's best sellers include the novels Money, London Fields, and The Information, as well his memoir, Experience. He lives in London.
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