‘I wish I weren’t English’: of all the fake tags affixed to my name, this is the one I greet with the deepest moan of inanition. I suggest that the remark – and its equivalent in any language or any alphabet – is unutterable by anyone whose IQ reaches double figures. ‘I wish I weren’t North Korean’ might make a bit of sense, assuming the existence of a North Korean sufficiently well-informed and intrepid to give voice to it. Otherwise and elsewhere, the sentiment is inconceivably null. And for a writer to say it of England – the country of Dickens, George Eliot, Blake, Milton, and, yes, William Shakespeare – isn’t even perverse. It is merely twee.

– Martin Amis, “He’s Leaving Home,” The Rub of Time: Bellow, Nabokov, Hitchens, Travolta, Trump. Essays and Reportage, 1994-2016 (2017)


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