Solar

Solar, by Ian McEwan  ($15.75)

Amazon:  Customarily, McEwan’s novels spring from a catastrophic incident in someone’s life, either a calamity that causes physical distress or a psychological trespass that causes emotional instability. For instance, in Enduring Love (1998), a man plunges to his death from a balloon, and in the aftermath, one witness continues to menace another witness. On Chesil Beach (2007) centers on an emotionally devastating wedding night. In his new novel, McEwan outdoes himself in terms of catastrophic occurrences. The protagonist, physicist Michael Beard, won a Nobel Prize several years ago and has been resting on his laurels ever since. A serial cheater, he is now married to his fifth wife, who leads a totally separate life, indicating her complete disdain for his wandering eye. His lack of effort in applying himself to either career or fidelity only increases our dislike of him. Even he says of himself, “No one loved him.” An accidental death in which he was involved and which he covered up, a politically incorrect statement aired before a professional audience, and his usurpation of the research of a deceased colleague: readers are taxed to even care about these crises. This draggy novel stands in stark contrast to its many beautiful predecessors, but McEwan is regarded as a major contemporary British novelist, so expect demand on that basis. –Brad Hooper

The author recently was interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show, which can be replayed here.  This was very interesting, I thought.  — rls

“McEwan’s background research is so seamlessly displayed that scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — busy working on the same topic — 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

“A comedy every bit as brilliant as its title might suggest … Blazing with imaginative and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance.”
Sunday Times

“A stunningly accomplished work, possibly [McEwan’s] best yet.”
Financial Times

“Beard is as robust and full-fleshed and ebullient a character as McEwan has come up with. And in Solar, he shows a side to himself as a writer — a puckishness, a broadness of humour, an extravagance of style — that we haven’t seen before.”
The Spectator

“Blending domestic satire with scientific inquiry, [Solar] nods to concerns both personal and planetary in a tone that is at once ironic and heartfelt. It is exquisitely and defiantly McEwan-esque. Accept no imitations.”
Mail on Sunday

Praise for On Chesil Beach

“Heartbreaking . . . Breathtaking . . . McEwan’s prose is as masterly as ever, here striking a remarkably subtle balance between detachment and sympathy, dry wit and deep compassion. It reaffirms my conviction that no one now writing in English surpasses or even matches McEwan’s accomplishment.”
—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

“Marvelously realized . . . Wrenching, funny, smart, and hugely gratifying in unexpected ways . . . On Chesil Beach is as merciful to its characters as it is merciless in its heartache.”
Boston Globe

“Remarkable, engaging and gripping . . . On Chesil Beach is not only a wonderful read but also perhaps that rarest of things: a perfect novel.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“[McEwan’s] finely honed prose is a deep pleasure to experience.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“Completely absorbing . . . Infused with a bitter poignancy . . . Intense and powerful . . . A masterpiece.”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“Dazzling . . . McEwan treats [his subject] with a boundless sympathy, one that enlists the reader even as it disguises the fact that this seeming novel of manners is as fundamentally a horror novel as any [he’s] written.”
—Jonathan Lethem, New York Times Book Review

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