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Extended Audio Sample Lionel Asbo: State of England, by Martin Amis Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,205 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Martin Amis Narrator: Alex Jennings Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A savage, funny, and mysteriously poignant saga by a renowned author at the height of his powers. 

Lionel Asbo, a terrifying yet weirdly loyal thug (self-named after England’s notorious “Anti-Social Behavior Order”), has always looked out for his ward and nephew, the orphaned Desmond Pepperdine. He provides him with fatherly career advice and is determined they should share the joys of pit bulls, Internet porn, and all manner of more serious criminality. Des, on the other hand, desires nothing more than books to read and a girl to love—and to protect a family secret that could be the death of him. 

But just as he begins to lead a gentler, healthier life, his uncle—once again in a London prison—wins £140 million in the lottery and, upon his release, hires a public relations firm and begins dating a cannily ambitious topless model and “poet.” Strangely, however, Lionel’s true nature remains uncompromised while his problems, and therefore also Desmond’s, seem only to multiply.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Lionel Asbo is at heart an old-fashioned novel, earnest in its agenda...Amis is...an insistently moral writer, satire being an edifying genre with a noble cause: the improvement of society.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Amis’ language is electric, his wit as sharp and precise than it has been in a decade, and Lionel Asbo has a savage, post-apocalyptic feel.”

    USA Today

  • “Little fiction is more entertaining than Martin Amis at his pithy best. His latest novel posits plenty of pith and cutting cultural criticism. It is wild. It is whacked. [It] swings between wildly funny and harshly real.” 

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “In his thirteenth novel—one of his most compulsively readable—wily, dead-on satirist and consummate artist Martin Amis is grandly acerbic, funny, and unnerving...He leads us on, shakes us up, knocks us down, brushes us off, then does it all over again...With crisp insights, rollicking storytelling, and acrobatic wit, Amis has created a...hilarious dismantlement of our cherished rags-to-riches fantasy.”

    Kansas City Star

  • Lionel Asbo bears a strong resemblance to the trio of novels that made Amis’ reputation. Like them, it is a satirical work...and has an elaborate plot, a series of brilliant set pieces and a matchless sense of the contemporary demotic...Lionel Asbo maybe be even better than these ambitious works of fiction, more disciplined, funnier, and more inventive....To say that it is a return to form is an understatement—it might be his finest work.”

    Denver Post

  • “A joy—and strangely life-affirming... It certainly has much of the dazzling prose that made his earlier works so stand-out.”

    Times (London)

  • “[Lionel Asbo] is a great big confidence trick of a novel—an attack that turns into an embrace—a book that looks at us, laughs at us, looks at us harder, closer, and laughs at us harder and still more savagely.  It is every inch the novel that we all deserve.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “A wicked satire [and] frequently wincingly funny.  Amis’ aim at the totems and mores of common fame is as unerring, and his phrase-making as pyrotechnically dazzling, as ever…Amis also writes with real—and uncharacteristic—tenderness.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “A surprisingly tender story.”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “A ripper of a story, in the Dickens mode... Amis is the most original sentence-writer in English.”

    Globe and Mail (Canada)

  • “Technically brilliant, dazzling in style, manic in energy, and driven by a narrative momentum impossible to resist... The novel is full of Amis’ trademark virtuoso prose and wit.”

    Toronto Star

  • “Amis’ funniest and most satisfying novel in years—the book’s comedy [lashed] with a serious dose of menace... his warmest book—and also his most authentically chilling... Among its other surprises, Lionel Asbo delivers the most compelling plot Amis has crafted.”


  • “A masterpiece of social satire and cultural observation...fine, caustic, funny, angry, and outrageous.” 

    Wichita Eagle

  • “One of Amis’ funniest novels...Amis, like his heroes Nabokov and Bellow, writes exuberant, ecstatic prose.  His ear is precisely tuned, and his sentences—in narration and dialogue—are lethal.”

    New Yorker

  • “Amis pumps his novel full of heart and warmth, providing an unexpected reward for readers.”


  • “As combative and as vicious as ever, Amis skewers the noughties as cruelly, as inventively, and with as much screwy black comedy as his Money did the eighties.”

    GQ UK

  • Lionel Asbo crackles with brilliant prose and scathing satire...Amis adopts a big, playful storytelling voice in this book.  He riffs like a jazz master, in and out of vernacular, with brief gusts of description, all driven by a tight bass line of suspense.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Jennings’ portrayals of Lionel and his circle are tremendous fun.”


  • “Amis’ phenomenal vim and versatility, anchoring roots in English literature, and gift for satire power this hilariously Dickensian, nerve-racking, crafty, bull’s eye tale of a monster and a mensch…This deliciously shivery, sly, and taunting page-turner provokes a fresh assessment of the poverty of place, mind, and spirit and the wondrous blossoming of against-all-odds goodness.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Slate Magazine Best Book of 2012: Staff Pick
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Robert Ronsson | 2/11/2014

    " This is a mean-spirited book. The central character is one-dimensional and has no redeeming features. Amis shifts his cliche characters about in an imagined landscape that is meant to be the 'State of Britain'. I use the word imagined because I don't think Amis can know enough about what it is like to be born into a sink estate and be brought up to have abysmally low life expectations to write about it empathetically. This is a case where the rule 'write about what you know' applies. Like a previous reviewer I found this a depressing experience, not because of the content, but because a supposedly great writer is using his talent and access to media attention to blow an extended rasberry at the country of his birth. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Karin | 2/9/2014

    " Set this down to read my book club book and had no desire to pick it up again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jason | 2/4/2014

    " Martin Amis has a weird sense of humor. His dark style of humor really shines with the dialogue of Lionel. There are some parts that didn't make much sense to me, most probably going over my head but for the most part it is an easy read. The characters do speak in English slang which for me added a lot of humor but at times was too obscure for me to follow. This book should be read if only for the crazy antics of Lionel Asbo, the books namesake. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Michele | 2/1/2014

    " This book is exactly like a bag of chips. Lots of flavor, can't stop reading, but no nutritional value. Far from Amis' best work, but very entertaining. "

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About the Author
Author Martin Amis

Martin Amis is the author of many novels, two collections of fiction stories, several of nonfiction, and the memoir Experience, for which he received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Amis has been listed for the Booker Prize twice and was a professor of creative writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester until 2011. He lives in Brooklyn.