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Solar [Audio CD]

Ian McEwan , Roger Allam
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2010
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.

From the Hardcover edition.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

Product Description


A Globe and Mail Best Book
A New York Times Notable Book
An O: The Oprah Magazine Great Read 
Winner – Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2010
“Deeply funny.”
Toronto Star
"Scarcely a page fails to dazzle with some wittily caught perception about contemporary life. Blazing with imagination and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance."
—Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times

"McEwan at his best. Intelligent, funny, and full of insights."
—The Guardian

"A stunningly accomplished work, possibly his best yet."
—Financial Times

"Solar burns with wit and energy. It demonstrates why McEwan is among the language's most popular literary novelists."
—Winnipeg Free Press

"In Atonement or Enduring Love or Amsterdam or Saturday or pretty much any of his novels, Solar has many adept competitors for best of breed, and those competitors are beloved. But this may be his best work yet."
—The Star Phoenix --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

IAN McEWAN is the bestselling author of thirteen books, including the novels On Chesil Beach; Saturday; 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.

From the Hardcover edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true master at work May 15 2010
While some of the plot twists are perhaps a bit too audacious, this book is worth reading if only to marvel at McEwan's command of the English language. I often caught myself reading sentences a few times, just enjoying the writing. There are few writers that have that effect for me. Back to plot for a minute. McEwan does know how to get the story from A to B quite efficiently, sometimes within a sentence, where others would have taken paragraphs to make the leap. I've liked nearly everything McEwan has done and this just adds to the list.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Writing May 28 2010
By Samantha TOP 500 REVIEWER
Ian McEwan is a great writer because each novel has its own distinctive style. In Solar, he delights with a wry depiction of Michael Beard, Nobel Prize winning physicist, a buffoon who stumbles into success and flails about trying to remain important. He is not an endearing protagonist, but I found his story, living on the edge of immorality, highly enjoyable. While not a comedy per se, there are a number of comical incidents that are laugh out loud funny. Although the novel centers around global warming and its politics, I did not find it dry. It was an engaging read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ian McEwan:Solar. June 9 2014
By Hana
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you were rushing to a bookstore or a library to obtain this "savagely funny" and "enormously entertaining" book, as the advertising on the cover calls it, you will be well advised to slowdown and think again.
This book is funny close to the beginning. There are dirty jokes, for men, by a man, and on men, particularly middle aged ones. Then, later, the description how the politically correct hysterics resulted would be funny, if it were not literally true and actually frightening.
Our hero is not only a scientist and a holder of the Nobel Prize, but also first class Don Juan. I might believe that he could have had even more sexual encounters than mentioned, but not about four relationships a year, while married. A relationship needs some time, while getting entangled and disentangled, and ending it all, unless, of course, he carried more than two relationships at the same time.
This book is about creating energy from water and solar energy. It is very educated and well researched.
But there is still a possibility that the whole book is a joke. On us, on the author, and on novel writing generally.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;" -- 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NKJV)

I suspect that Solar could become a 21st century classic from the perspective of the 22nd century. We live in days of extreme worship for celebrities, secular learning, new technologies, and self-indulgence. Undoubtedly, the pendulum will eventually swing away from such things, as it always does. As a result, it's hard to see this story now as being a serious critique of society while living in the midst of such a careless world. I apologize for my own myopia in this sense.

I thought that the portrait of Michael Beard rang very true in terms of many people I've known who have earned fame and honor at a young age for some knowledge breakthrough. I personally would have found the book a lot funnier if it had been based in the nonsense that goes on around the Nobel Prize for economics rather than for physics.

Mr. McEwan did a fine job of revealing Beard's capability for self-deception by slowly revealing how much self-justification was involved in Beard's self-image.

The book's main problem is that it feels over the top, more like slapstick satire than rapier-wit satire. I expected something a little more subtle.

But the book made me laugh, caused me to squirm, led me to self-examine my own failings (of which there have been and continue to be many), and to appreciate more fundamentally why we need God's grace to overcome our sinful natures. That's a lot to gain from a satire.

Nice work, Mr. McEwan!
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