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Solar - Ian McEwan

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This is a bit of a departure in style for the Man Booker prize winner Ian McEwan and while his lightness of touch and wry humour may put some of his traditional readers off, this new approach should endear him to a whole new readership. That is not to say that McEwan is dumbing down. Far from it. Solar is as elegantly written, insightful and as engrossing as his earlier books.

Aging, ailing, failing Nobel physicist Michael Beard is on a downward trajectory. His professional life is a juggle of shoring up funding, elbowing his way onto consultative committees and advisory boards, while younger doctoral scientists compete to earn attention for their own pet projects. Meanwhile, his tendency for serial monogamy topped up with an extravagance of extra marital affairs is becoming harder and harder to sustain.

McEwan's portrait of a delusional, self-important man set against the politics of climate change is both subtle and masterful. While there is good balance between the interior dialogue and some pretty surprising action, the reader has a continued and growing sense throughout it is all going to end in tears. This comedy of manners marvellously portrays the cynicism of the world of academia and politics, all the time keeping the focus on the misanthropic Beard and his obsessions with women, food and wine.

I couldn't keep the smile off my face while reading this one.

Michael Beard is a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. A compulsive womaniser, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

When Beard's professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and save the world from environmental disaster.

Ranging from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of New Mexico, SOLAR is a serious and darkly satirical novel, showing human frailty struggling with the most pressing and complex problem of our time. A story of one man's greed and self-deception, it is a profound and stylish new work from one of the world's great writers.

Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix FĂ©mina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000.

In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader's Digest Author of the Year.

McEwan lives in London.

Booktopia Book Guru says: Ian McEwan presents the world as you know it, and then tweaks it, just a fraction, causing it to crack, and from that crack spills forth meaning, directly into your lap.

Visit Ian McEwan's Booktopia Author Page


ISBN: 9780224090506
ISBN-10: 022409050X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 18th March 2010
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.38