Though it might seem odd to declaim in August about a novel that is not scheduled for publication until Sept. 4, nothing is odd, really, when it comes to Mr. Amis and the strangely potent brew of envy, unease, schadenfreude and fury he inevitably provokes in fellow writers [in London].
There are … good reasons for taking Thirlwell seriously. His authorial voice is not entirely original: he is so heavily influenced by Milan Kundera that he has to negotiate his relationship with the author in the later sections of this novel, and there are also echoes of Alain de Botton’s fiction and Toby Litt’s early short stories. But Politics has a flexibility and muscle that elevates him above most debut novelists. The novel has an oddly 1970s feel, partly due to the louche voice of the narrator and partly the subject (the story, ultimately, of a mÃ©nage Ã trois), but a great deal of its content feels genuinely new.
Henry Sutton disagrees; here’s an excerpt from his recent review:
While Thirlwell can be warm and funny, and very astute about fledgling relationships among 20-year-olds, his characters don’t exactly leap off the page. This is partly to do with the whole artifice of the novel. Those heavy references are all very impressive, but you get the feeling they are meant to be. And despite them, and the desperately hip, multi-ethnic undertones, Politics is a surprisingly light novel, lacking much punch.
Thirlwell’s “The Cyrillic Alphabet” appeared in a recent issue of Granta devoted to young British novelists. Mr. Thirlwell is 25 years old.