I Hate Martin Amis Et Al. by Peter Barry

‘I shall start by writing about my first victim,’ begins the most interesting and engrossing book that I have read in well over a year. Set in the mid-nineties, I Hate Martin Amis et al. is the story of Milan Zorec, a much-rejected unpublished novelist, recently also rejected by his girlfriend, who’s determined to write a book that no publisher will be able to turn away from. Trading his dead-end job for the Yugoslavian war, Milan travels from England to Bosnia to volunteer for the Serb army and becomes a sniper in Sarajevo during the final months of the longest siege in history. Here he hopes to come face-to-face with the horrors of humanity so that he’ll be able to write a book that no publisher can dismiss with the words, ‘I feel like I’ve seen this before.’

An earlier draft of this book won the 2005 Victorian Premier’s Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Simply put, this book is brilliant. It’s written in such a way that it literally can’t be put down – I sat up until four in the morning reading it, even though I had a seven o’clock start the next day. It is dark and confronting, but at the same time every sentence is powered by a strange kind of humour. I found myself jumping from sentence to sentence and chapter to chapter, constantly wanting more. I didn’t want to stop reading.

I Hate Martin Amis et al. is like nothing you’ll have read before – and I’m sure that it’s set to be one of the must-reads of 2011. This book is so well constructed, so well-written and so interesting that it will appeal to anyone. If you’re after a great read – get this book. If you’re after a great gift – again, get this book.

Nathan Reid is from Readings Malvern.