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‘Cool, tender and sweet Martin Amis was in another world’, Ian McEwan says in tribute

Martin Amis, who has died aged 73 (AP)
Martin Amis, who has died aged 73 (AP)

Martin Amis was hailed today by his friend and fellow novelist Ian McEwan as a writer with “even more riffs than Keith Richards and Mick Jagger put together”.

Booker Prize-winner McEwan told BBC Radio 4’s Today that Amis, who has died aged 73, was “very cool” but also “very tender, very sweet, very generous”.

He said: “There was a great tenderness to Martin that never really reached the public press, he was always the Mick Jagger of literature and so on which was foolish”.

He added: “Martin ranged with even more riffs than Keith Richards and Mick Jagger put together. He was in another world, a world of meanings and a world too of comic misunderstandings.”

Amis, the son of the writer Sir Kingsley Amis, published his first novel The Rachel Papers aged 24. The story of a bright but frustrated young man starting to make his way in the world set his reputation as a literary prodigy that lasted long into middle age as he continued to write journalism, criticism and novels, including London Fields and Money that skewered life in the capital in the Eighties.

Along with contemporaries including Sir Salman Rushdie and McEwan, Amis was seen as shaking up stale literary establishment and reinvigorating the novel for a new generation. Their success brought them fame with stories of their colourful private lives and staggering advances on their next novels making as many headlines as the content of their books.

Amis, who died from cancer of the oesophagus at his home in Florida at the weekend, is survived by his wife, writer Isabel Fonseca, and his children Louis, Jacob, Fernanda, Clio and Delilah.

Sir Salman told the New Yorker: “He used to say that what he wanted to do was leave behind a shelf of books — to be able to say, ‘from here to here, it’s me’. His voice is silent now. His friends will miss him terribly. But we have the shelf.”