Lauded for his razor-sharp wit and incisive language, Martin Amis rose to prominence over the latter half of the 20th century, establishing himself as a titan of contemporary British literature. Born in Swansea, Wales in 1949 – his father the eminent novelist Kingsley Amis – Amis carved a niche of his own, with a 50-year oeuvre of fiction, essays, and memoirs that explore societal themes, human relationships, and the existential complexities of modern life.

Interweaving sardonic humor with profound insights, his debut novel The Rachel Papers was published to acclaim in 1973 – winning the Somerset Maugham Award and launching Amis into the literary limelight. Subsequent seminal works include 1984’s Money, a satirical dissection of greed and excess, and 1989’s London Fields, an intricate narrative exploring morality and foreboding.

Back in 2013, in celebration of the release of his novel Lionel Asbo, Amis spoke with Vogue France on the books of his life. From the formative influence of Pride and Prejudice to his penchant for re-reading Bellow and Nabokov, explore five of his favorite books below, and complement with the recommendations of Bret Easton Ellis, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan and Philip Roth.

Martin Amis’ Reading List

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (also rec’d by Marlon JamesNorman MailerNora Ephron & Richard E. Grant)

“Unlike many other writers, I started reading very late. For a long time, I only read comics and super-hero stories, then one day, my stepmother [Elizabeth Jane Howard] – who’s also a novelist – insisted that I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. After half an hour, I knocked at her door to know how it finished, I had to know whether Elizabeth Bennet was going to fall for Darcy. That’s how I started reading. I read a lot the year I was at boarding school in Brighton, I think when you’re 15, you read in a different way, with an intensity that you rarely experience as you get older.” -MA

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (also rec’d by David BowieEmily RatajkowskiErnest HemingwayJim JarmuschKim GordonNorman Mailer, Paul Theroux & Philip Roth)

Madame Bovary is a masterpiece. Flaubert paints a picture of a woman who is vulgar, weak and stupid, but he manages to make her likeable and that’s why we love the novel so much, Flaubert’s unique style makes that possible. I also like Stendhal’s On Love a great deal, even if we lose a lot in translating a text. How can you faithfully translate Flaubert or Kafka? Translating without betraying the original text to some extent, is impossible.” -MA

Letters by Saul Bellow

“I re-read a lot, I think you have to re-read a text to really grasp how it works. You can only really understand the richness of a film if you know how it ends and it’s the same with literature. I’m constantly re-reading Nabokov and Saul Bellow, two absolute giants of literature. I read very few living writers, I think only posterity can reveal true talent.” -MA

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov

Ulysses by James Joyce (also rec’d by Bret Easton EllisGabriel García MárquezIrvine Welsh, Jennifer Connelly & Jim Morrison)

“It contains everything, nothing new has really been written since.” -MA

(via Vogue France; photo by Elena Seibert)

Looking for an Amazon alternative? Support local, independent booksellers by shopping Martin Amis’ reading list – and hundreds of other celebrity book recommendations – through Radical Reads’ Bookshop profile.

Categories: Writers