Amis novel rejected by German publisher

Amis novel rejected by German publisher

Martin Amis’ new novel The Zone of Interest, set in a fictionalised Auschwitz, was turned down by the author’s usual publisher in Germany, Hanser, The Guardian reports.

Gallimard, Amis' customary publisher in France, will also not publish the book, which is to appear instead from publisher Calmann-Lévy.

Amis reportedly told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the manuscript wasn't "sufficiently convincing" for publisher Hanser, which has published his five previous books. No other publisher has yet bought the German rights.

In his interview with the German paper, Amis said he thought Hanser had rejected the book on literary merit, not because of the subject matter. "Germany has reached a stage where younger people are eager to talk about the past, and the country has developed a sober perspective on that criminal period in its history. That's why I was surprised when the publisher rejected the book," he said.

The publisher did not understand the main character, SS officer Angelus "Golo" Thomsen, he added.

Amis said he thought Gallimard rejected the book because of a change in editorial direction, not because of a problem with the subject matter.

French newspaper Le Monde said Gallimard and Hanser risk losing “an author of renown” and pointed out that Gallimard didn’t shy away from publishing Jonathan Littell’s Les Beinveillantes (The Kindly Ones), which is narrated by a German SS officer who helped carry out the Holocaust.

In the UK, The Zone of Interest was published by Jonathan Cape on 21st August to largely favourable reviews. The Guardian said The Zone of Interest is a “searching, striking novel” that is more than a bravura black comedy, while the Telegraph called it “bracingly weird”. The Times said it was curious that a “Man Booker longlist that can find space for David Nicholls has chosen to overlook the most daring novelist of our time”.
 
However, David Sexton of the London Evening Standard dubbed the novel a “moral disaster zone”, writing: “The Zone of Interest is not just a book in bad taste, it is truly depressing to read — not because of what it tells you about Auschwitz, Nazism and the Holocaust (nothing, if you have read the standard texts he depends upon) but because it is so exploitative of such overwhelmingly important subject matter."