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3.1 149
by Ian McEwan

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A best-selling work of wit from the Booker Prize-winning author, Solar brilliantly traces the arc of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist’s ambitions and self-deception.

Dr. Michael Beard’s 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


A best-selling work of wit from the Booker Prize-winning author, Solar brilliantly traces the arc of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist’s ambitions and self-deception.

Dr. Michael Beard’s 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 halfheartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. Meanwhile, Michael’s fifth marriage is floundering due to his incessant womanizing. When his professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Michael to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. But can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity? 

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Man Booker Prize winner McEwan's 11th novel follows On Chesil Beach (2007), also available from Recorded Books. One-time Nobel Prize-winning physicist Michael Beard—now middle-aged, overweight, an alcoholic, and a serial monogamist—is well past his glory days. When a renewable energy foundation sends him on a junket to the Arctic to document the effects of global warming, he sees his chance at redemption. British actor Roger Allam nicely presents McEwan's tale, whose writing is beautiful and precise but whose plot is encumbered by the details of Beard's self-absorbed, narcissistic life. Recommended only for inclusive collections, to satisfy demand for British fiction, and where McEwan does well. [Includes a bonus interview with the author; the Nan A. Talese: Doubleday hc was recommended for "fans of McEwan's other works," LJ 4/15/10.—Ed.]—Sandy Glover, Camas P.L., WA
Michiko Kakutani
Despite the book's somber, scientific backdrop (and global warming here is little but that), Solar is Mr. McEwan's funniest novel yet—a novel that in tone and affect often reads more like something by Zoe Heller or David Lodge.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Booker Prize–winner McEwan (On Chesil Beach; Atonement) once again deploys domestic strife to examine the currents of worldwide change. This time, McEwan shoots for the sun, with the promise of solar energy gradually legitimizing itself in the mind of Nobel Prize–winning physicist Michael Beard. While Bush v. Gore drags on across the Atlantic and Beard's fifth marriage dissolves in an adulterous haze, the waning laureate rides his reputation to a cushy position at a U.K. climate research center, where he is generally disdainful of his younger colleagues. Then, following an epiphany of sorts, Beard pins the accidental death of a rival scientist on his wife's lover and steals the other man's research. By 2009, Beard is in New Mexico, riding high on ill-gotten funding and patents and within sight of a curious redemption. Beard is a fascinatingly repulsive protagonist, but he can't sustain a novel broken up by fast-forwards (all of which require tedious backstories) and a stream of overwritten courtships. The scientific material is absorbing, but the interpersonal portions are much less so—troublesome, since McEwan seems to prefer the latter—making for an inconsistent novel that one finishes feeling unpleasantly glacial. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

“Totally gripping and entirely hilarious.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Playful . . . glittering, gimlet-eyed. . . . Solar is balls-out, inventive, and brilliant.” —Elle
“McEwan’s funniest novel yet.” —The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice
“Excellent….Discreet and witty.” –The New York Review of Books
“Wonderful….Underlying the novel’s mordant comedy and its mounting suspense….is a genuine concern for the climate, the planet, the future of man.” –Kansas City Star
“McEwan writes sentences of such witty elegance that the loss of John Updike seems a little easier to bear. . . .[He] comes to this [climate change] debate with considerabl[e] sophistication.” –The Washington Post
“Precise and satisfying.” –People
“Artistically ambitious [and] seriously entertaining. . . .In Solar [McEwan has] elegantly discovered a terrible truth: that comedy is the only possible way to deal with the searing specter stalking the planet.” –The Wall Street Journal
“McEwan’s best novel ever. . . .Fans of McEwan’s previous work will find much to like.” –The Daily Beast
“Vivacious and sprawling, a beautifully and compellingly written novel. . . .[His] achievement is the brilliant creation of a flawed, larger than life character who all but walks off the page to shake your hand.” –The Times (London)
“The funniest book Ian McEwan has ever written. . . .McEwan is a nearly peerless wordsmith. . . .[and] crazy smart.” –Entertainment Weekly
“[With] wonderful scenes, comic set pieces. . . .If you’re human, it’s hilarious.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Deft. . . .McEwan’s background research is so seamlessly displayed that scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technoloy might wonder if he’s nicked their notes. But where Solar really succeeds—beyond the dark comedy—is the author’s ability to reveal the nature of the climate conundrum in the very human life of his protagonist.” –Time
“This may be his best work yet. . . .From start to finish, Ian McEwan has delivered his fastest-paced and most fastidiously researched novel.” –The Vancouver Sun
“Wonderfully rendered. . . .Thoroughly engrossing and often quite funny.” –The Seattle Times
“McEwan has shown himself to be a master of the smart, cynical tale. With Solar, though, the bar is raised. This may be the first climate-change comedy.” –Montreal Gazette
“A pleasure to read. . . .McEwan mines [Beard’s] rich and extravagant interior life for comic gold. McEwan proves himself comfortable not just with comedy and suspense but with science as well.” –The Salt Lake Tribune
“Elegant and surprising. . . .[McEwan] reaches for a lighter, more comic mode than usual. . . .The overarching plot pulls off a clinching novelistic coup.” –The Guardian (London)
“Provoking. . . .[With] carefully plotted twists. . . .It is a sign of McEwan’s comic skill that he makes us sympathize with [the protagonist]. . . .Longtime readers of McEwan know how skilled he is at producing disasters from the ordinary, the way a magician pulls a bunny from a hat.” –Slate
“Charlie Chaplinesque. . . .The comedy keeps coming….[Solar] tells the story of our polluted planet more vividly than any amount of well-explained physics.” –Bloomberg News

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Ian McEwan

Random House Large Print

Copyright © 2010 Ian McEwan
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780739377789

      He belonged to that class of men—vaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, clever—who were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women. Or he believed he was, and thinking seemed to make it so. And it helped that some women believed he was a genius in need of rescue. But the Michael Beard of this time was a man of narrowed mental condition, anhedonic, monothematic, stricken. His fifth marriage was disintegrating, and he should have known how to behave, how to take the long view, how to take the blame. Weren’t marriages, his marriages, tidal, with one rolling out just before another rolled in? But this one was different. He did not know how to behave, long views pained him, and for once there was no blame for him to assume, as he saw it. It was his wife who was hav­ing the affair, and having it flagrantly, punitively, certainly without remorse. He was discovering in himself, among an array of emo­tions, intense moments of shame and longing. Patrice was seeing a builder, their builder, the one who had repointed their house, fitted their kitchen, retiled their bathroom, the very same heavyset fellow who in a tea break had once shown Michael a photo of his  mock-Tudor house, renovated and tudorized by his own hand, with a boat on a trailer under a Victorian-style lamppost on the concreted front driveway, and space on which to erect a decommissioned red phone box. Beard was surprised to find how complicated it was to be the cuckold. Misery was not simple. Let no one say that this late in life he was immune to fresh experience. 
      He had it coming. His four previous wives, Maisie, Ruth, Eleanor, Karen, who all still took a distant interest in his life, would have been exultant, and he hoped they would not be told. None of his mar­riages had lasted more than six years, and it was an achievement of sorts to have remained childless. His wives had discovered early on what a poor or frightening prospect of a father he presented, and they had protected themselves and got out. He liked to think that if he had caused unhappiness, it was never for long, and it counted for some­thing that he was still on speaking terms with all his exes. 
      But not with his current wife. In better times, he might have pre­dicted for himself a manly embrace of double standards, with bouts of dangerous fury, perhaps an episode of drunken roaring in the back garden late at night, or writing off her car, and the calculated pursuit of a younger woman, a Samson-like toppling of the marital temple. Instead he was paralyzed by shame, by the extent of his humiliation. Even worse, he amazed himself with his inconvenient longing for her. These days, desire for Patrice came on him out of nowhere, like an attack of stomach cramp. He would have to sit somewhere alone and wait for it to pass. Apparently there was a certain kind of husband who thrilled at the notion of his wife with other men. Such a man might arrange to have himself bound and gagged and locked in the bedroom wardrobe while ten feet away his better half went at it. Had Beard at last located within himself a capacity for sexual masochism? No woman had ever looked or sounded so desirable as the wife he suddenly could not have. Conspicuously, he went to Lisbon to look up an old friend, but it was a joyless three nights. He had to have his wife back, and dared not drive her away with shouting or threats or brilliant moments of unreason. Nor was it in his nature to plead. He was frozen, he was abject, he could think of nothing else. The first time she left him a note—Staying over at R’s tonight. xx P—did he go round to the mock-Tudor ex-council semi with the shrouded speed­boat on the hard standing and a hot tub in the  pint- sized backyard to mash the man’s brains with his own monkey wrench? No, he watched television for five hours in his overcoat, drank two bottles of wine, and tried not to think. And failed. 
      But thinking was all he had. When his other wives had found out about his affairs, they had raged, coldly or tearfully, they had insisted on long sessions into the early hours to deliver their thoughts on bro­ken trust, and eventually their demands for a separation and all that fol­lowed. But when Patrice happened across some e-mails from Suzanne Reuben, a mathematician at the Humboldt University in Berlin, she became unnaturally elated. That same afternoon she moved her clothes into the guest bedroom. It was a shock when he slid the wardrobe doors open to confirm the fact. Those rows of silk and cotton dresses, he realized now, had been a luxury and a comfort, versions of herself lining up to please him. No longer. Even the hangers were gone. She smiled through dinner that night as she explained that she too intended to be “free,” and within the week she had started her affair. What was a man to do? He apologized one breakfast, told her his lapse meant nothing, made grand promises he sincerely believed he might keep. This was the closest he came to pleading. She said she did not mind what he did. This was what she was doing—and this was when she revealed the identity of her lover, the builder with the sin­ister name of Rodney Tarpin, seven inches taller and twenty years younger than the cuckold, whose sole reading, according to his boast, back when he was humbly grouting and beveling for the Beards, was the sports section of a tabloid newspaper. 
      An early sign of Beard’s distress was dysmorphia, or perhaps it was dysmorphia he was suddenly cured of. At last he knew himself for what he was. Catching sight of a conical pink mess in the misted full- length mirror as he came out of the shower, he wiped down the glass, stood full on, and took a disbelieving look. What engines of self-persuasion had let him think for so many years that looking like this was seductive? That foolish thatch of earlobe-level hair that but­tressed his baldness, the new curtain swag of fat that hung below his armpits, the innocent stupidity of swelling in gut and rear. Once he had been able to improve on his mirror self by pinning back his shoul­ders, standing erect, tightening his abs. Now human blubber draped his efforts. How could he possibly keep hold of a young woman as beautiful as she was? Had he honestly thought that status was enough, that his Nobel Prize would keep her in his bed? Naked, he was a dis­grace, an idiot, a weakling. Even eight consecutive  push- ups were beyond him. Whereas Tarpin could run up the stairs to the Beards’ master bedroom holding under one arm a fifty-kilo cement sack. Fifty kilos? That was roughly Patrice’s weight. 
      She kept him at a distance with lethal cheerfulness. These were additional insults, her singsong hellos, the matinal recital of domestic detail, and her evening whereabouts, and none of it would have mat­tered if he had been able to despise her a little and plan to be shot of her. Then they could have settled down to the brief, grisly disman­tling of a five-year childless marriage. Of course she was punishing him, but when he suggested that, she shrugged and said that she could just as easily have said the same of him. She had merely been waiting for this opportunity, he said, and she laughed and said that in that case she was grateful to him. 
      In his delusional state, he was convinced that just as he was about to lose her, he had found the perfect wife. That summer of 2000 she was wearing different clothes, she had a different look around the house—faded tight jeans, flip-flops, a ragged pink cardigan over a T-shirt, her blond hair cut short, her pale eyes a deeper agitated blue. Her build was slight, and now she looked like a teenager. From the empty rope- handled glossy carrier bags and tissue paper left strewn on the kitchen table for his inspection, he gathered she was buying herself new underwear for Tarpin to remove. She was thirty-four, and still kept the strawberries-and-cream look of her twenties. She did not tease or taunt or flirt with him—that at least would have been communication of a sort—but steadily perfected the bright indiffer­ence with which she intended to obliterate him. 
      He needed to cease needing her, but desire was not like that. He wanted to want her. One sultry night he lay uncovered on the bed and tried masturbating himself toward freedom. It bothered him that he could not see his genitalia unless his head was propped up on two pil­lows, and his fantasy was continually interrupted by Tarpin, who, like some ignorant stagehand with ladder and bucket, kept wandering onto the set. Was there another man on the planet apart from Beard attempting at this moment to pleasure himself with thoughts of his own wife just thirty feet away across the landing? The question emp­tied him of purpose. And it was too hot. 
      Friends used to tell him that Patrice resembled Marilyn Monroe, at least from certain angles and in a certain light. He had been happy to accept this status- enhancing comparison, but he never really saw it. Now he did. She had changed. There was a new fullness in her lower lip, a promise of trouble when she lowered her gaze, and her short­ened hair lay curled on her nape in a compelling, old-fashioned way. Surely she was more beautiful than Monroe, drifting about the house and garden at weekends in a haze of blond and pink and pale blue. What an adolescent color scheme he had fallen for, and at his age. 
      He turned  fifty- three that July, and naturally she ignored his birthday, then pretended in her jolly new style to remember it three days later. She gave him a kipper tie in  Day- Glo mint green, telling him the style was being “revived.” Yes, the weekends were the worst. She would come into a room where he was, not wishing to talk, but perhaps wanting to be seen, and she would look about in mild sur­prise before wandering off. She was evaluating everything afresh, not only him. He would see her at the bottom of the garden under the horse chestnut, lying on the grass with the newspapers, waiting in deep shade for her evening to begin. Then she would retire to the guest room to shower, dress, apply makeup and scent. As if reading his thoughts, she was wearing her lipstick red and thick. Perhaps Rodney Tarpin was encouraging the Monroe notion—a cliché Beard was now obliged to share. 
      If he was still in the house when she left (he tried so hard to keep busy at night), he found it irresistible to ameliorate his longing and pain by observing her from an upstairs window as she stepped into the evening air of Belsize Park and walked up the garden path—how disloyal of the unoiled garden gate to squeak in the same old way— and climbed into her car, a small and flighty black Peugeot of wanton acceleration. She was so eager, gunning the engine as she pulled away from the curb, that his douleur redoubled, because he knew she knew he was watching. Then her absence hung in the summer dusk like garden bonfire smoke, an erotic charge of invisible particulates that caused him to remain in position for many pointless minutes. He was not actually mad, he kept telling himself, but he thought he was get­ting a taste, a bitter sip. 
      What impressed him was his ability to think of nothing else. When he was reading a book, when he was giving a talk, he was really thinking of her, or of her and Tarpin. It was a bad idea to be at home when she was out seeing him, but since Lisbon he had no desire to look up old girlfriends. Instead he took on a series of evening lectures about quantum field theory at the Royal Geographical Society, joined radio and TV discussions, and at occasional events filled in for col­leagues who were ill. Let the philosophers of science delude them­selves to the contrary, physics was free of human taint; it described a world that would still exist if men and women and all their sorrows did not. In this conviction he was at one with Albert Einstein. 
      But even if he ate late with friends, he was usually home before her, and was forced to wait, whether he wanted to or not, until she returned, though nothing would happen when she did. She would go straight to her room, and he would remain in his, not wanting to meet her on the stairs in her state of postcoital somnolence. It was almost better when she stayed over at Tarpin’s. Almost, but it would cost him a night’s sleep. 
   At two a.m. one night in late July he was in his dressing gown on his bed listening to the radio when he heard her come in and imme­diately, without premeditation, enacted a scheme to make her jeal­ous and unsure and want to come back to him. On the BBC World Service a woman was discussing village customs as they affected domes­tic life among Turkish Kurds, a soothing drone of cruelty, injustice, and absurdity. Turning the volume down but keeping his fingers on the knob, Beard loudly intoned a fragment of a nursery rhyme. He figured that from her room she would hear his voice but not his words. As he finished his sentence, he turned up the volume of the woman’s voice for a few seconds, which he then interrupted with a line from the lecture he had given that night, and made the woman reply at greater length. He kept this going for five minutes, his voice, then the woman’s, sometimes artfully overlapping the two. The house was silent—listening, of course. He went into the bathroom, ran a tap, flushed the lavatory, and laughed out loud. Patrice should know that his lover was a wit. Then he gave out a muted kind of whoop. Patrice should know he was having fun. 
      He did not sleep much that night. At four, after a long silence suggestive of tranquil intimacy, he opened his bedroom door while keeping up an insistent murmur and went down the stairs backward, bending forward to beat out on the treads with his palms the sound of his companion’s footfall, syncopated with his own. This was the kind of logical plan only a madman might embrace. After seeing his com­panion to the hall, saying his good- byes between silent kisses, and closing the front door on her with a firmness that resounded through the house, he went upstairs and fell into a doze at last, after six, repeat­ing to himself softly, Judge me by my results. He was up an hour later to be sure of running into Patrice before she left for work and of letting her see how suddenly cheerful he was. 
      At the front door she paused, car keys in her hand, the strap of her book- crammed satchel cutting into the shoulder of her floral blouse. No one could doubt it: she looked shattered, drained, though her voice was as bright as ever. She told him that she would be inviting Rodney for dinner that evening, and that he would probably stay the night, and she would appreciate it if he, Michael, would stay clear of the kitchen. 
      That happened to be his day for traveling to the Center out at Reading. Dizzy with fatigue, he began the journey staring through his smeared train window at suburban London’s miraculous combi­nation of chaos and dullness and damning himself for his folly. His turn to listen to voices through the wall? Impossible; he would stay out somewhere. Driven from his own home by his wife’s lover? Impos­sible; he would stay and confront him. A fight with Tarpin? Impossi­ble; he would be stamped into the hallway parquet. Clearly he had been in no state to take decisions or to devise schemes, and from now on he must take into account his unreliable mental state and act conser­vatively, passively, honestly, and break no rules, do nothing extreme. 
   Months later he would violate every element of this resolution, but it was forgotten by the end of that day because Patrice arrived home from work without supplies (there was nothing in the fridge) and the builder did not come to dinner. He saw her only once that night, crossing the hallway with a mug of tea in her hand, looking slumped and gray, less the movie icon, more the overworked primary-school teacher whose private life was awry. Had he been wrong to berate himself on the train, had his plan actually worked, and in her sorrow had she been forced to cancel? 
      Reflecting on the night before, he found it extraordinary that after a lifetime of infidelities, a night with an imaginary friend was no less exciting. For the first time in weeks he felt faintly cheerful, even whistled a show tune as he microwaved his supper, and when he saw himself in the gold-leaf Sun King mirror in the cloakroom down­stairs, he thought his face had lost some fat and looked purposeful, with a shadow of cheekbone visible, and was, by the light of the thirty-watt bulb, somewhat noble, a possible effect of the sugary  cholesterol-lowering yogurt drink he was forcing himself to swallow each morning. When he went to bed, he kept the radio off and lay waiting with the light turned low for the remorseful little tap of her fingernails on his door. 
      It did not come, but he was not troubled. Let her pass a white night reexamining her life and what was meaningful, let her weigh in the scales of human worth a horny-handed Tarpin and his shrouded boat against ethereal Beard of planetary renown. The following five nights she stayed home, as far as he could tell, while he was commit­ted to his lectures and other meetings and dinners, and when he came in, usually after midnight, he hoped his confident footfalls gave the impression to the darkened house of a man returning from a tryst. 
      On the sixth night, he was free to stay in, and she chose to go out, having spent longer than usual under shower and hair dryer. From his place, a small, deeply recessed window on a first-floor half landing, he watched her go along the garden path and pause by a tall drift of ver­milion hollyhocks, pause as though reluctant to leave, and put her hand out to examine a flower. She picked it, squeezing it between newly painted nails of thumb and forefinger, held it a moment to con­sider, then let it drop to her feet. The summer dress—beige silk, sleeve­less, with a single pleat in the small of her back—was new, a signal he was uncertain how to read. She continued to the front gate, and he thought there was heaviness in her step, or at least some slackening of her customary eagerness, and she parted from the curb in the Peugeot at near-normal acceleration. 
      But he was less happy that night waiting in, confused again about his judgment, beginning to think he was right after all, his radio prank had sunk him. To help think matters through, he poured a scotch and watched football. In place of dinner he ate a liter tub of strawberry ice cream and prized apart a half kilo of pistachios. He was restless, both­ered by unfocused sexual need, and coming to the conclusion that he might as well be having or resuming a real affair. He passed some time turning the pages of his address book, stared at the phone a good while but did not pick it up. 
      He drank half the bottle and before eleven fell asleep fully dressed on the bed with the overhead light on, and for several seconds did not know where he was when, some hours later, he was woken by the sound of a voice downstairs. The bedside clock showed two-thirty. It was Patrice talking to Tarpin, and Beard, still fortified by drink, was in the mood to have a word. He stood groggily in the center of the bedroom, swaying a little as he tucked in his shirt. Quietly he opened his door. All the house lights were on, and that was fine; he was already going down the stairs with no thought for the consequences. Patrice was still talking, and as he crossed the hall toward the open sitting-room door he thought that he heard her laughing or singing and that he was about to break up a little celebration. 
      But she was alone and crying, sitting hunched forward on the sofa with her shoes lying on their sides on the long glass coffee table. It was an unfamiliar bottled, keening sound. If she had ever cried like this for him, it had been in his absence. He paused in the doorway, and she did not see him at first. She was a sad sight. A handkerchief or tissue was twisted in her hand, her delicate shoulders were bowed and shaking, and Beard was filled with pity. He sensed that a reconcilia­tion was at hand and that all she needed was a gentle touch, kind words, no questions, and she would fold into him and he would take her upstairs, though even in his sudden warmth of feeling, he knew he could not carry her, not even in both arms. 
      As he began to cross the room a floorboard creaked and she looked up. Their eyes met, but only for a second, because her hands flew up to her face and covered it as she twisted away. He said her name, and she shook her head. Awkwardly, with her back to him, she got up from the sofa, and walking almost sideways, she stumbled on the polar-bear skin, which tended to slide too easily on the polished wooden floor. He had come close to breaking an ankle once and had despised the rug ever since. He also disliked its leering, wide-open mouth and bared teeth yellowed by exposure to the light. They had never done anything to secure it to the floor, and there was no ques­tion of throwing it out because it was a wedding present from her father. She steadied herself, remembered to pick up her shoes, and, with a free hand covering her eyes, hurried past him, flinching as he reached out to touch her arm and beginning to cry again, more freely this time, as she ran up the stairs. 
      He turned off the lights in the room and lay on the sofa. Pointless to go after her when she did not want him, and it did not matter now, because he had seen. Too late for her hand to conceal the bruise below her right eye that spread across the top of her cheek, black fading to inflamed red at its edges, swelling under her lower lid, forcing the eye shut. He sighed aloud in resignation. It was inevitable, his duty was clear: he would have to get in his car now and drive to Cricklewood, lean on the doorbell until he had brought Tarpin from his bed, and have it out with him, right there beneath the coach lamp, and sur­prise his loathed opponent with an astonishing turn of speed and purpose. With eyes narrowing, he thought it through again, linger­ing on the detail of his right fist bursting through the cartilage of Tarpin’s nose, and then, with minor revisions, he reconsidered the scene through closed eyes, and did not stir until the following morn­ing, when he was woken by the sound of the front door closing as she left for work.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Solar by Ian McEwan Copyright © 2010 by Ian McEwan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of seventeen books, including the novels NutshellThe Children ActSweet ToothSolar, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize; On Chesil BeachSaturdayAtonement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both short-listed for the Booker Prize; Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize; and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award; as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets.

Brief Biography

Oxford, England
Date of Birth:
June 21, 1948
Place of Birth:
Aldershot, England
B.A., University of Sussex, 1970; M.A., University of East Anglia, 1971

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Solar 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 149 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry to see the American critics so down on this novel, esp. NYT, where IM's readers probably go. Even McEwan's "not his best" is far better than most other writers best. He is a craftsman who doesn't patronize his readers and trusts that they bring something besides eyes to the page.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Ian McEwan apparently has a variety of observations he wishes to make on contemporary issues, not the least of which is science. He is a very smart man, an accomplished writer, and deserves to be heard. So. Why does he choose a vehicle like the novel Solar, centered on an unlikable character who probably has turned most readers off by page 80? But it was around page 80 that I thought the book picked up a bit, and I was able to enjoy some of the dilemmas he created for Michael Beard, the unworthy scientist who's haphazard life is supposed to carry our interest. Yet for those who think the book is very funny or even a good read, I wish to say that I think McEwan would have better conveyed his ideas in a Sunday magazine piece and saved us all from what is essentially a boring novel.
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
Fiction of this caliber is too rare, but is all the more welcome for being so. This novel has a message, great prose, hilarious caricatures, and a laugh-at-aging-old-me sense of humility. The book felt like an amusing conversation with several bright friends where a number of the important discussion topics of our time are (lightly, lightly) raised: the "social construct" of genetic code, cap and trade, solar vs. wind, photosynthetic energy, government responsibility, the tentativeness of financing, the "coldhearted predation" of the media. In a time when one might plausibly argue the world is falling down around our ears, it is heartening and enervating to have a crusty old scold and storyteller spin a tale of human greed, folly, and outsized appetites, and how we manage to move ahead despite these things. The inexorability of the human aging process and the failures of self control we all experience is rendered so ridiculous it makes us laugh while we weep. But what I liked most was McEwan showing us that even the greatest among us is so fatally flawed and so repulsively human, that we are bound to fail--unless...and this is the genius in the equation...we cooperate. And how could it be otherwise? Even as free light from the sun falls on our heedless heads, we focus blearily on the changing weather through the thick glass bottoms of anesthesizing glasses of scotch. Only when weather threatens to drown or parch us do we half-heartedly sling our heavy buttocks out of our easy chairs to murmur, annoyed, that the government should do something, sue someone, drill somewhere. Folly, all. Art may after all be an important prod to action, but here I find it a resting place, a way-station on the weary slog to changing things we feel helpless to change, even though we can. It places the finest thinkers right down among us, so we can all claim some superiority, and perhaps even some responsibility. McEwan suggests, perhaps, that even self-interest plays a role in advancing the ball towards the goal, but shows how fragile our hopes, and how easily we can all come undone, lest we not be vigilant.
BillPilgrim More than 1 year ago
Michael Beard won a Nobel Prize in physics as a young man and he has been coasting on it ever since. The book is told entirely from his point of view, in the third person. It is divided into three parts, starting in 2000, then moving to 2005 and ended in 2009. At the beginning, Michael is the head of a government funded program in Britain, that is working on alternative energy. He is rarely there and not really committed to its mission. He goes on excursions and to conferences, giving speeches, but not doing any real work. His marriage is ending, due mostly to his chronic infidelity. In the rest of the book, we see how he progresses, or progressively declines would be more accurate. I found it difficult to like the book, because Michael is such an unlikable character. Still the book is extremely funny in parts; I did laugh out loud. I was interested in the story and kept reading because I wanted to see how it ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Iceshard <p> Nickname: Ice <p> Gender: She <p> Age: 17 moons <p> Personality: She is very intelligent, and witty, feirce and strong, and bubbly, funny and warm-hearted. <p> Looks: She has a soft, white pelt that has grey dapples that get darker from head to tail. She has stunning, curios eyes. Her left eye is a vibrant blue (she is not blind) but as for her right eye, it is a rich carmel color. <p> Crush: Yes <p> Mate: Searching <p> Kits: Wants <p> History: Was born as a house cat. She ran away with her mom at 5 moons. <p> Anything else: Just ask! She doesnt bite! <p> &heart
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[Bare with me on remmbering the details, I haven't rp'd Whisper in ages! ;-;] <br>Name: WhisperWillow <br>Gender: She <br>Age: 30 Moons <br>Rank: Warrior <p>Appearance: Creme pelt with a white under belly, white muzzle, and white tail tip. She has sandy colored paws and sandy dapples along her spine, a pink nose and very pale green eyes. <br>Persona: She is calm, caring, loyal, protective, kind-hearted, loving, and willing to help whoever she can. <p>Kin: MysticSun- Daughter (Missing), Suneyes- Daughter (Missing), LightningStreak- Aunt (Deceased) RunningWind-Mother (Deceased), and WhisperRain-Father (Deceased) <br>Mate: Frost- (Deceased) She is finally ready to find someone new.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Aurora Borealis. No, is's Aurorapaw. Call me Aurora dor short. <p>Age: 10 moons. <p>Gender: Are you really that stupid? <p> Appearance: Electric blue eyes with shimmering silver fur. Hence the name "Aurora." She's also a fairly small cat. <p> Mate/Crush/Kits: No, no, no. She's training to be a medicine cat. <p>Living Kin: Scarpaw, Gingerpaw, Lionpaw, and Fangpaw. All searching for clans or hunting down previous clan. <p> Other: Ask.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:redsky*age:21 moons*apperance:red pelt with white underbelly, stiches from a tiger fight years ago, teal eyes.*kin:?*crush:none*mate:goldenflare*other:ask
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello, I am Longtail. I am a 19-moon old tom with a short black/white spotted pelt. I do not have a crush or a mate though I want kits. I realize that Longtail is a name that carries great honor and I live up to that. Thank you for listening to me as i told my bio.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Barkfur is a dark brown tom with deep blue eyes. His brown fur is long and always mat-free. His tail is long and feather-like with a white tip on it. Barkfur is clan born, but his parents were traitors and left to become kittypets. He always gets dark looks from the other warriors, because they all suspect he will run off, too. He has a crush, but because of his history he is afraid to talk to her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NAME: Rushingriver~&bull;~ AGE: about 19 moons~&bull;~ GENDER: tom/&male ~&bull;~ DESCRIPTION: dark gray with white highlights and points and blue-green eyes. He has three silver stripes that run down his spine, tapering at the forehead, then widening to frame an upside down triangle of silver. He is strong, great at climbing, hunting, but is an ok runner~&bull;~ PERSONALITY: when you first meet him, he can be a little snappy, but he starts to become a really fun cat later on. He will obey his leader's orders no matter the cost. He loves kits, and can be a little shy. But when around his hard-earned friends, he is outgoing, courageous, fun, and kind~&bull;~ STRENGTHS: fighting, climbing, hunting, talking ability~&bull;~ WEAKNESSES: trusts a little to easily. Follows orders. Hates to kill without big reason. He is a great fighter, but hates wars~&bull;~ CRUSH: yes. Two actually. Hint: she welcomed me to SolarClan. Hint: the other I have talked to the most, but really! There are no toms to be friends with!~&bull;~ MATE: looking~&bull;~ KITS: silly! I don't even have a mate!~&bull;~ KIN: none that is known~&bull;~ HISTORY: ask~&bull;~ FAVORITE FOOD: sparrow~&bull;~ SIGGY: working on it!~&bull;~ OTHER: ask! <br> <p> Thanks for reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:IceFlame&bull;Age:20 moons&bull;Gender:Male//Tom&bull;Apperance:He is a Russian blue tom with alarg build and black tabby stripes. An silver steel eyes. &bull;Personality: His sweet and kind buy he will snap if you wander into his past. But over all hw is sweet kind annd fun to be with.&bull;Family:Shadowflare:mom,Foxteeth:father.&bull;Mate:None &bull;Crush:I have my eye on someone &bull;Kits:None but you can hope! &bull;Birth Clan:AshClan &bull;Other Fetures:A scar across his leg,flank and shoulder,from Revolution days.&bull;Skills:Hunting,Stragy,and Fighting.&bull;
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Featherkit. <p> Age: 6 moons (!!!) <p> Gender: Are you serious? <p> Coat: White with grey and black splotches <p> Eyes: Green with blue lines <p> Personality: Meet me. <p> Likes: Herbs, singing, hunting, running, hiding, and home. <p> Dislikes: Fish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name Domino age ? Gender She Family unknown Likes everything except dislikes fish rude cats cussing at little kids mean parents leather belts and suicidalls! Looks black with white spots a silver tiped tail and a black spot around left eye Other Ask me and read my story at res 12!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name cloudheart but call me cloud white tom blue gold eyes personality quiet mate none crush no one history?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name- Mothstripe the Magnificent. No, just Mothstripe.<p>Gender- She-cat, of course!<p>Age- Not super-young warrior but not old.<p>Appearance- Beige-cream with creamy white stripes, thicker than a normal tabby stripe. Yellow eyes. Semilong fur, creating a feathery tail.<p>Personality- Occasionally overhyper. Always puts a bit of humor into things. Extremely loyal to her Clan. And a bit like Luigi. Yes, the Man in Green. Yes, I am a a gamer irl. Yes, you have to deal with it.<p>Love life- She is kinda sorta looking for a mate, but with so few toms, all of them are nearly taken. Or at least crushed on by other shes. Never had mate/kits before.<p>History- I haven't made this up yet. Umm... Her parents are deeeeeeeeeaaa- No. That won't do. Hmm... it involves Twolegs. But she isn't a kittypet? I guess. That'll do, Donkey. That'll do.<p>Theme song- Smile Song Vocals in D-Flat Major And Also The Background Music is in 8Bit. Not the exact title but it's in a PooTube playlist by Vengeful Hang<_>over called Pitch Shifting Goodness.<p>Favorite Prey- fish, but it's secretly a secret. Shh!<p>Likes- fish, rain without lightning, the cooling feeling of stretching out on dirt or grass in the shadeon a hot day, references to fandoms, and fourth wall jokes.<p>Dislikes- Thunderstorms, intense heat, having to wake up quickly, and bad grammar, spelling, and puctuation.<p>Other: I feel there should be more to this bio. Oh yeah! Forgot to mention. Mothstripe's kinda the deputy. Oh wow. I was even thinking of putting that when I was writing the Personality section. Oh well. Goodbye and have a nice day. Close the door on your way out. Don't eat ramen noodles and drink chocolate milk in the same sitting unless you WANT intense stomach pain. Put the shower curtain inside the tub if you're taking a shower. Don't check on your rice unless you're sure it's done. And remember, kittens make your sad go away. :3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:LunaThorn Age:18 moons Looks: she is a soft white shecat with sapphire blue eyes. She has a few black stripes across her back because she is part snow tiger. Personality: kind sweet and funny. Not always flirty Mate:looking Kits: none
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
&#22876 Age <br> 23 Moons <p> &#22876 Gender <br> Tom <p> &#22876 Rank <br> Warrior <p> &#22876 Appearance <br> A lithe seal point Siamese with a jagged pink scar on his chest; deep vivid blue eyes. <p> &#22876 Persona <br> Get to know him. <p> &#22876 Crush <br> A certain she-cat <p> &#22876 Mate <br> Nope <p> &#22876 Kits <br> Nope <p> &#22876 Kin <br> BriarTail || Mother || Light brown tabby with green eyes <br> SwiftCloud || Father || Seal point Siamese || Former kittypet <br> SunLeaf || Sister || Brown-and-white with green eyes <p> &#22876 Other <br> No <p> Now click the [ X ]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gender: Shecat&bull; Age: Who cares?&bull; Rank: Warrior&bull; Crush: Yes...&bull; Mate: Nope&bull; Kits: You are so dumb.&bull; Personality: Shy, good with herbs, and not very brave. Doesn't judge cats by their parents or siblings, or backstorys. &bull; Likes: Rain, swimming and hunting. &bull; Dislikes: Patroling, sleeping, or fighting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Flameheart &bull; Age: 17 moons &bull; Appereance: Russet-orange, bright green eyes. &bull; Rank: Warrior &bull; Personality: Just talk to me. &bull; Kin: all unkown &bull; History: Don't ask &bull; Mate: none &bull; Crush: none &bull; Kits: none &bull; Other: just ask!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
&#9833 Name| SolarStar<br> &#9834 Gender| &female <br> &#9835 Rank| Leader<br> &#9833 Age| About 25 moons<p> &#9834 Looks| SolarStar is a radiant golden she-cat with sparkling navy blue eyes. She has a white tipped tail and paws, and her tail is bushy like a bengal cat. Infact, she is half bengal.<p> &#9835 Persona| SolarStar is a bit eccentric in ways, but when you first meet her, she can be kinda shy. Don't be mistaken, becase she can be sassy and flirty.<p> &#9833 Mother| GreenFlower<br> &#9834 Father| PolarSun<br> &#9835 Brothers| FlareStrike, JuniperFur, LionPelt<br> &#9833 Sisters| FrostWind, FireDawn, HeatherStream<p> &#9834 Crush| None<br> &#9835 Mate| Looking<br> &#9833 Kits| None
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago