Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis - review by Matthew Adams

Matthew Adams

Dissing Diston

Lionel Asbo: State of England


Jonathan Cape 276pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Deep in the opening section of this rich and remarkable novel, the young Desmond Pepperdine – ‘repeatedly amazed by the total tonnage of what he didn’t know’, and by this stage the adult beneficiary of those adolescent ‘pangs and quickenings of intelligence within his being’ – speaks the following words: ‘It’s like a fairy tale. Magic.’

Desmond (Des, Desi) is speaking here of the recent vicissitudes of his unbelievable uncle and guardian, Lionel Asbo, whose lottery win, criminal career, and criminal attempt to determine the nature of the relationship between his nephew and his mother – Grace, thirty-nine, and Des’s grandmother – are the ostensible subjects

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