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Interview with Martin Amis

By Jon Snow

Updated on 17 October 2007

The author Martin Amis, who has been accused of Islamophobia, joins us live in the studio to discuss his response to 11 September.

He's one of Britain's leading novelists - his family's literary credentials second to none. And Martin Amis is certainly no stranger to controversy over his writings.

But a very public row with his fellow academic Terry Eagleton has become the talk of the literary world. Eagleton has accused Amis of Islamophobia, over his response to 11 September.

Amis himself says he's pretty free of racism, but admits to "little impulses, urges and atavisms now and then". This week, a leading newspaper columnist joined in the spat - describing Amis as being 'with the beasts'.

Watch the interview

Amis moves to end row over Islam

What provoked the row was several pieces and interviews last year by Brit-lit wunderkind Amis, in which the author, a long-standing friend of Salman Rushdie, appears to dismiss Islam as a religion that has fallen prey to extremism.

Terry Eagleton, a professor of English literature at Manchester University, took exception to Amis's remarks, claiming this month that their aim had been the "hounding and humiliating (of Muslims) as a whole (so) they would return home and teach their children to be obedient to the White Man's law".

'Can I ask Terry Eagleton, in a collegial spirit, to shut up about it?'
Martin Amis

The dispute has been lent added piquancy by the fact that Amis has recently taken up the position of head of creative writing at Eagleton's university, and by the latter's recently revised introduction to his book Ideology: An Introduction, in which he describes the writer's father, Kingsley Amis, as a "racist, anti-Semitic boor, a drink-sodden, self-hating reviler of women, gays and liberals".

The exchange acquired further momentum when Independent columnist and moderate Muslim Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (previously on friendly terms with Amis) said in her column last week that the writer was "with the beasts" in his views about Islam.

Sensing, perhaps, that a row over such a contentious subject could easily spiral out of control, Amis tried to bring matters to a conclusion in a letter to The Guardian last Friday. In it, he writes that "'harassing the Muslim community in Britain' would be neither moral nor efficacious... Can I ask him (Terry Eagleton), in a collegial spirit, to shut up about it?"

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