Lionel Asbo: Book summary and reviews of Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis

Lionel Asbo

State of England

by Martin Amis

Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis X
Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis
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  • Published Aug 2012
    272 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

A savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant saga by a renowned author at the height of his powers.

Lionel Asbo, a terrifying yet weirdly loyal thug (self-named after England's notorious Anti-Social Behaviour Order), has always looked out for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Desmond Pepperdine.  He provides him with fatherly career advice (always carry a knife, for example) and is determined they should share the joys of pit bulls (fed with lots of Tabasco sauce), Internet porn, and all manner of more serious criminality.  Des, on the other hand, desires nothing more than books to read and a girl to love (and to protect a family secret that could be the death of him).  But just as he begins to lead a gentler, healthier life, his uncle - once again in a London prison - wins £140 million in the lottery and upon his release hires a public relations firm and begins dating a cannily ambitious topless model and "poet."  Strangely, however, Lionel's true nature remains uncompromised while his problems, and therefore also Desmond's, seem only to multiply.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Lionel Asbo crackles with brilliant prose and scathing satire [and is] savagely funny... [Amis] riffs like a jazz master, in and out of vernacular, with brief gusts of description, all driven by a tight bass line of suspense." - Jess Walter, Publishers Weekly

"Amis' phenomenal vim and versatility, anchoring roots in English literature, and gift for satire power this hilariously Dickensian, nerve-racking, crafty, bull's eye tale of a monster and a mensch… This deliciously shivery, sly, and taunting page-turner provokes a fresh assessment of the poverty of place, mind, and spirit and the wondrous blossoming of against-all-odds goodness." - Booklist

"Despite the distractions of the Lionel's shenanigans (ridiculous, over the top, and, yes, funny) readers will be drawn to Des. He may be the straight man in the piece but he adds depth to the novel. It's a fun read all around, but fans of Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle will want to look for this." - Library Journal

"A joy - and strangely life-affirming... It certainly has much of the dazzling prose that made his earlier works so stand-out. ...Though it satirises a society in decline it is also, in the end, a story about the triumph of education over ignorance, love over hate." - The Times (U.K.)

"A surprisingly tender story… For all its scabrous humour, this is at heart an old-fashioned tale in which goodness may still find a way to triumph." - The Daily Mail (U.K.)

"The novel comes at you and comes at you and keeps on coming. It never flags… It is a great big confidence trick of a novel - an attack that turns into an embrace - a book that looks at us, laughs at us, looks at us harder, closer, and laughs at us harder and still more savagely. It is every inch the novel that we all deserve." - The Guardian (U.K.)

"A wicked satire [and] frequently wincingly funny. Amis's aim at the totems and mores of common fame is as unerring, and his phrase-making as pyrotechnically dazzling, as ever… Amis also writes with real - and uncharacteristic - tenderness." - The Telegraph (U.K.)

"Martin Amis has let himself go at last, [with] the broadest comedy he has ever published… Amis's delight in the incorrigible is genuinely Dickensian." - Evening Standard (U.K.)

This information about Lionel Asbo was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Martin Amis Author Biography

Photo: Isabel Fonseca

Martin Amis is the son of another famous British novelist, Kingsley Amis, and although he credits his initial welcome into the publishing world to his father's influence, much has been written about this father and son phenomenon and their relationship as writers, including the story that Amis' father actually stopped halfway through reading his son's novel Money and threw it across the room. In an interview with The Paris Review in 1998, Amis confirmed the story saying, 'I'm almost certain that it was the introduction of a minor character called Martin Amis that caused my father to send the book windmilling through the air.'

His father's disapproval did not dampen Amis' spirits for long though, as he humorously explained: "He didn't like Jane Austen, didn't like Dickens, didn't like ...

... Full Biography
Link to Martin Amis's Website

Name Pronunciation
Martin Amis: AIM-is

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