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April 2010 Indie Next List
“Nobel Prize-winning English physicist Michael Beard is a human being of extremes: very bright, very lazy, overweight, over married (five times), amoral, and rapacious. Despite early success, he has become irrelevant until a lucky break furnishes him with material to change course, become an environmental darling, and appear to save the world. McEwan, as usual, writes a taut plot line, with suspense and dread of retribution building with each turned page.”
— Darwin Ellis, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, CT
The literary event of the season: a new novel from Ian McEwan, as surprising as it is masterful.
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. While he coasts along in his professional life, Michael’s personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her.
When Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?
A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man’s ambitions and self-deceptions, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work from one of the world’s great writers.
About the Author
IAN McEWAN is the bestselling author of thirteen books, including the novels "On Chesil Beach"; "Saturda"y; "Atonement," winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the W. H. Smith Literary Award; "The Comfort of Strangers" and "Black Dogs," both shortlisted 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." He lives in London.
"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."
"A comedy every bit as brilliant as its title might suggest ... Blazing with imaginative and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance."
“A stunningly accomplished work, possibly [McEwan’s] best yet.”
“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.”
"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.”
“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.”
“Completely absorbing . . . Infused with a bitter poignancy . . . Intense and powerful . . . A masterpiece.”
“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