Literature Book of the Year, Sunday Times
'Magisterial' Daily Telegraph
'Unsurpassable' New York Review of Books
By the time Herzog was published in 1964, Saul Bellow was probably the most acclaimed novelist in America, described in later years by the critic James Wood as ‘the greatest writer of American prose in the twentieth century.’ Zachary Leader’s biography shows how this prose, with its exhilarating mixture of high culture and low, came into existence. It also traces Bellow’s life away from the desk, as polemicist, teacher, husband, father and lover. Fierce in his loyalties, Bellow was no less fierce in his enmities, combative in defence of his freedoms. Spanning the period from Bellow’s birth in 1915 to the publication of Herzog in 1964, volume one of this biography is the first since Saul Bellow’s death, and the first to discuss his life and work in its entirety.
In this authorised biography, Zachary Leader argues that Kingsley Amis was not only the finest comic novelist of his generation, but a dominant figure in post-war British writing, as novelist, poet, critic and polemicist.
Drawing not only on interviews with a range of Amis's friends, relatives, fellow writers, students and colleagues, many of them never before consulted, but also on hundreds of previously unpublished letters, Leader's biography will for the first time give a full picture of Amis's childhood, school days, life as a teacher, critic, political and cultural commentator, professional author, husband, father and lover.
He explores Amis's fears and phobias, and the role that drink played in his life. And of course he pays due attention to Amis's work. As the editor of The Letters of Kingsley Amis, hailed in The Sunday Telegraph as 'one of the last major monuments to the epistolary art', Leader is more than qualified to be his authorised biographer. His book will surprise, entertain and illuminate.
Zachary Leader is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. His books include On Modern British Fiction (2002) and Revision and Romantic Authorship (1999). His editing of Kingley Amis's Letters was described as 'omniscient' by John Carey in the Sunday Times, 'wondrously thorough' by Ian Hamilton in the London Review of Books, and 'exemplary' by David Lodge in the Times Literary Supplement.