Martin Amis and Noah Hawley on Evil
The Holocaust. Fargo, the television series. Evil in an extraordinary scope. So how does a writer tackle that which is unspeakable, unable to be properly understood? And how can a writer compel us to indulge him, to join him as he veers from the conventional approach and coverage of a subject that has gripped two, three or four generations already? Some events in history can't be easily understood; sometimes the older we get, the more we learn seems to make it that much more difficult to comprehend the depth and breadth of that which men do.
Martin Amis, one of the great and most audacious writers of our time, takes on the Holocaust (again), with his new masterwork, The Zone of Interest. The prism through which we see the daily life and death in the concentration camp is a sort of love story, one in which a Nazi officer falls hopelessly for the wife of the Kommandant. The result is literary sleight of handwhile focusing on the often jovial arrogance and privilege of the officers, Amis steadily exposes the psychosis of evil, the psychosis that led to the slaughter of so many millions. In Amis' new novel, we learn more about what people experienced, what small acts of heroism entailed, and how the Nazi effort managed to sustain itself, than through countless other novels of a more conventional approach. The Zone of Interest is a whole new way of taking aim at the Holocaust and it is supremely effective in shaking us up all over again.
Noah Hawley is the creator of the Emmy Award winning FX television series, Fargo. Hawley, like Amis, uses a nice love story to get to the heart and soul of evil; the domestic bliss of our two heroes in Season 1 of this great show swirled around the sociopathic escalation of sheer badness in a local nebbish and a visiting gun-for-hire. It's television at its most inventivesheer jaw-dropping story-telling. And Noah Hawley is a novelist as wellmost recently of the acclaimed novel, The Good Father.
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