Martin Amis shared his thoughts on Jewish writers and alter egos

Forward, a nonprofit independent Jewish publication, published an article (“Jewish writers not only inspired Martin Amis—they made him want to become part of the family”) by Benjamin Ivry about English novelist Martin Amis, who died on May 19 at age 73. Ivry wrote that Amis “looked to America as a promised land for literary achievement, and to U.S. Jewish writers as inspirational overachievers.

“In his essays, even when praising the non-Jewish John Updike, Amis did so because Updike ‘alone could hold his head up with the great Jews—Bellow, Roth, Mailer, Singer—it was entirely typical of him that, as a sideline, be became a great Jewish novelist too, in the person of Henry Bech, the hero of several of his books,” Ivry wrote.

“Amis embraced the notion that by inventing Jewish characters, a writer might indirectly attain Yiddishkeit. Indeed, Amis clearly identified with Updike’s supposed claim that ‘by developing a Jewish persona [he] was saying something like: “Look, I’m really Jewish too. We’re all Jewish here.”‘

“So unlike non-Jewish writers of an earlier generation like Capote or Vidal who reacted to Jewish achievement in American literature with antisemitic sarcasm, Updike (and by extension Amis) decided to assimilate with the Jews.”

Read the full article.

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