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Solar Paperback – 14 Oct 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (14 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0224093568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224093569
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.2 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 396,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday and On Chesil Beach.

Product Description


"Savagely funny... Enormously entertaining...a stellar performance" (Sunday Times)

"A stunningly accomplished work, possibly his best yet...both funny and serious, light and dark, morally engaged and ironically detached" (Financial Times)

"A satirical will come to be regarded as a classic" (Lorna Bradbury Daily Telegraph)

"Wonderfully enjoyable... 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" (Sam Leith Spectator)

"McEwan has succeeded in producing a novel that is both profoundly serious and hilariously funny" (Mail on Sunday) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel about climate change

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Timothy W. Dumble on 14 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Politics,physics and environmentalism are unlikely comedy bed partners but it is testimony to McEwan's ability that he has woven all three into an hilarious and dark satire which conveys an equally serious message about the mentality of humankind. Michael Beard is a convincingly real figure uncomfortably familiar to the reader at times,the personification of Humankind,self indulgent,unable to control his self destructive visceral urges,unable to save himself let alone the World.'Solar' is a powerful indictment of modern consumerism in which Beard lives for the moment, a sybarite seeking the short cut to success and hapiness,an amoral shadow of his former self.

Fans of McEwan should be warned that 'Solar' represents a very different read to some of his other work eg 'Amsterdam', Saturday' or 'On Chesil Beach'. The authentic and well researched science might not be to the taste of all readers although non scientists should persevere as they will enjoy the arts v science theme developed hilariously within.What it does contain however are many examples of McEwan's familiar talent in the art of the simile alongside a previously less demonstrated ability to deliver comic one liners with panache- none better than the dead polar bears quip.

Justice is seen to be done in the denouement with Beard's hubris and self delusion unravelling with comic results-will we also have time to experience a similar ephiphany with respect to global warming?Beard's inevitable demise is deliciously ironic coming as it will from his beloved solar photons.In the flawed humanity of Michael Beard 'Solar' asks how can we save the world when we can't even look after ourselves?
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Williams on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Solar tells the story of Michael Beard, an overweight and aging physicist who won the Nobel prize twenty years ago and hasn't had an interesting idea since. He plays on his fame and drifts between speaking engagements and sinecures, his private life is a disastrous series of failed marriages.

That all changes when a freak accident leaves him in possession of a file full of brilliant ideas from a young post-grad, and claiming the work as his own, Beard sets out to build a new technology that will single-handedly solve the world's energy crisis and stop climate change.

I won't spoil it for you by saying any more about the story - not that there is much of a story. Like the protagonist, Solar sort of bumbles along, following Beard to the Arctic and back, to conferences, lectures, bored nights in motel rooms, until it suddenly picks up at the end as Beard's various mistakes all suddenly begin to catch up with him all at once.

Michael Beard is such a thoroughly unlikeable character that I nearly gave up halfway through, but there are enough flashes of humour or interesting observations about human nature to make it worth persevering. It's not a great book - the reviewers panning it here have a point. Much of the book is mundane, well written but rather empty and moping. Nothing of any real interest happens until a good third of the way in, and the ending is somewhat contrived. Nevertheless, it's a satire and McEwan is attempting something rather bold - exploring climate change through the lens of human nature. Read that way, I think McEwan pulls it off, although I do wonder what his established fans will make of it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. H. Konarzewski on 7 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
There are many good things in Solar. The quality of writing is superb throughout and the book is worth reading just as an adventure in use of language. There is a lot of wit laced with black humour and satire. Unlike some critics I thoroughly enjoyed the digressions into physics even though much of it went over my head. However, "saving the planet" is an important issue, even for those who don't actually believe the planet is in peril, and McEwen concisely summarises most of the key issues. The characterisation of Michael Beard - the fat, greedy anti-hero - was excellent. The man was consistently repellant and morally bankrupt, yet not unlovable. It takes real skill to make a sympathetic character out of Michael Beard, but McEwan manages to do it. (The scary thing is that there is a bit of Michael Beard in all of us, if we're honest; at least there is in me. Apologies to anyone to whom this observation does not apply.) Unfortunately the book has flaws, which is unsurprising as it is probably impossible to write a humorous book that is "perfect". Amongst the things I didn't like were the "carry on" moments where wit gave way to slapstick humour, for example the polar expedition where Michael Beard suffers frostbite whilst urinating in sub-zero temperatures. (This might just be a sense of humour failure on my part because I note that other people found that episode really funny.) There were moments of pure self-indulgence, for example where McEwan describes over two pages of tedious detail the descent of an aeroplane over West London before landing. The final quarter of the book was weak regarding the plot line. It is difficult to find a satisfactory ending for a humorous book and even McEwan can't do it. I was left feeling somehow unsatisfied.Read more ›
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