by IAN MCEWAN
Published by Jonathan Cape £17.99
'He is this country's
unrivalled literary giant' Independent on SundayThe new novel by one of
Britain's finest writers.
Saturday is a novel set within a
single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful
neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good
relations with his children, who are young adults. What troubles him is the
state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening
and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years
On this particular Saturday morning,
Perowne makes his way to his usual squash game with his anaesthetist, trying
to avoid the hundreds of thousand of marchers filling the streets of London,
protesting against the war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a
confrontation with a small-time thug called Miller. To Perowne's
professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young
man. Miller, in his turn, believes the surgeon has humiliated him, and
visits the opulent Perowne home that evening, during a family reunion - with
savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to
keep this doomed figure alive.
Born in 1948, the son of a Scots
sergeant-major, Ian McEwan's childhood was a typical army one of the time -
moving from Aldershot to Singapore and then again to Tripoli so at the age
of eleven he was sent away to Woolverstone Hall, a state-run boarding
school. He describes himself as 'a very mediocre pupil' until he was
seventeen, when he began to find English literature exciting. After
graduating from Sussex University he went on to do an MA course in creative
writing at East Anglia, under the direction of Malcolm Bradbury and Angus
Wilson, and began writing short stories. His first short story,
Homemade, was accepted by The New American Review and the money earned from
its publication paid the way for a trip to Afghanistan.
In 1972 he returned to England and taught
English as a second language whilst writing. In 1975 his volume of short
stories First Love, Last Rites was published to sensational critical
acclaim. Al Alvarez hailed it as a 'brilliant debut by the most
promising writer around' and Anthony Thwaite described the book as 'a
brilliant performance... with an originality astonishing for a writer still
in his twenties.' It won the Somerset Maugham Award and revitalised the
short story form.
In 1978, his second collection of stories
In Between the Sheets, with the now familiar McEwan themes of adolescent
sexual awakenings, the perverse and the macabre, shocked the English
literary establishment. 'What is strange and subterranean about human nature
interest me far more than writing fiction about people accumulating wealth
or losing wealth.'
In 1978, The Cement Garden, his first novel, was published to great acclaim
- 'a near perfect novelist' (The Spectator). In 1979, his television play
Solid Geometry made the headlines when the BBC banned it, ostensibly for a
scene displaying a pickled penis in a jar...and Ian McEwan was established
as 'a leading literary spokesman for his generation'.
In 1980, the BBC production of The
Imitation Game gained instant recognition - 'A Play for Today of rare
distinction' (Clive James). In 1981, his second novel The Comfort of
Strangers was published and again, hailed as the work of one of the most
outstanding writers of the 20th century. 'McEwan has already created a style
and a vision of his own...no-one can afford not to read him.' (John Fowles).
The Comfort of Strangers was shortlisted for the 1981 Booker Prize.
The Child in Time, his third novel,
published in 1987, won the Whitbread Award for the best novel of that year.
Phenomenally well received, it drew high praise from Craig Raine and
Jeanette Winterson and John Carey said in the Sunday Times 'If you want to
be appalled, refreshed, exhilarated, enlivened - read it.'
The Innocent, published in 1990, was an
extraordinary achievement. He took a genre until then dominated by Deighton
and le Carre - and completely reinvented it. 'It displays the immaculate
artistry we have come to expect from one of Britain's most highly respected
novelists,' Sunday Times.
Black Dogs was published in 1993 and once
again the plaudits followed; '...testament to one of recent fiction's most
remarkable regeneration McEwan's transformation from a purveyor of knowingly
nasty tales to a novelist unsurpassed for his responsive, responsible
humanity.' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
Enduring Love was published in September
1997 to huge critical and commercial success; 'Enduring Love is an
excellent book, executed with all McEwan's customary panache, all his usual
readability and screw-tightening.' Mail on Sunday. The film adaptation is
released in November 2004.
Atonement was published in 2002 and went on
to be a huge bestseller in both Cape and Vintage.
'Atonement is a magnificent
novel, shaped and paced with awesome confidence and eloquence.'
'Subtle as well as powerful, adeptly
encompassing comedy as well as atrocity, Atonement is a richly intricate
book A superb achievement which combines a magnificent display of the
powers of the imagination with a probing exploration of them.'
The Sunday Times
'He is this country's unrivalled literary
giant. A fascinatingly strange, unique and gripping novel.'
Independent on Sunday
'McEwan's best novel so far, his
'The best thing he has ever written.'
McEwan's novel is art of the very
highest kindAtonement creates the pre-war atmosphere with a subtlety that is
utterly compellingA masterpiece.