Martin Amis's latest novel is Lionel Asbo: State of England.
From his Q & A with Irene Lacher at the Los Angeles Times:
The subtitle of your new novel, "Lionel Asbo," is "State of England." But I think your story of a sociopathic criminal who wins the lottery and becomes a tabloid celebrity could easily have happened here.--Marshal Zeringue
Yeah, it could. But it's not just for that reason the subtitle is there. It's the whole imagined world of Diston [Asbo's home borough in London]. It's just so English. Put it this way: It's true that anything can happen in America, but it's almost impossible to imagine a microcosm of America. Henry James said America was more like a world than a country, and you couldn't imagine a novel with a subtitle "State of America," could you? There has been John Dos Passos' "U.S.A.," and many ambitious American novelists have tried to contain a huge amount of America in this or that novel, but I don't think they for a minute think they've got anything close to the essence of it — it's too various. England is small enough, homogenous enough so that you can have a shot at writing a novel with that subtitle, whereas in America it would be a vast undertaking.
So Lionel and his girlfriend, "Threnody," have real-life inspirations?
In Lionel's case, I did read a charming book written by a dustbin man, a young man who won the lottery, and it wasn't nearly as much as Lionel — 10 million or something. And I read his book, thinking this will be full of good stuff, but when I closed it, I realized I couldn't use a single idea or notion, because that is the usual cliched story. Whatever else you say about Lionel, he isn't a type. He isn't a cliche. So you abandon the real-life model very early on. The same with [celebrity and former topless model] Katie Price; my character "Threnody" is a Katie Price wannabe, but she can't pull it off in the way Katie Price has done. All you get out of that kind of research is the setting, not the...[read on]