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Ian McEwan

Author of Atonement

90+ Works 89,201 Members 2,667 Reviews 483 Favorited
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About the Author

Ian McEwan was born in Aldershot, England on June 21, 1948. He received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Sussex and an M.A. in English Literature from the University of East Anglia. He writes novels, plays, and collections of short stories including In Between the Sheets, The show more Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Innocent, Black Dogs, The Daydreamer, Enduring Love, Sweet Tooth, The Children Act and Nutshell. He has won numerous awards including the 1976 Somerset Maugham Award for First Love, Last Rites; the 1987 Whitbread Novel Award and the 1993 Prix Fémina Etranger for The Child in Time; the 1998 Booker Prize for Fiction for Amserdam; the 2002 W. H. Smith Literary Award, the 2003 National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award, the 2003 Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction, and the 2004 Santiago Prize for the European Novel for Atonement; and the 2006 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Saturday. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Eamonn McCabe

Works by Ian McEwan

Atonement (2001) — Author — 26,256 copies
Saturday (2005) 10,285 copies
On Chesil Beach (2007) 8,416 copies
Amsterdam (1998) 7,399 copies
Enduring Love (1997) 5,779 copies
Solar (2010) 3,639 copies
The Cement Garden (1978) — Author — 3,536 copies
Sweet Tooth (2012) 3,225 copies
The Children Act (2014) 2,916 copies
The Child in Time (1987) 2,554 copies
The Innocent (1990) 2,412 copies
The Comfort of Strangers (1981) 2,296 copies
Black Dogs (1992) 2,269 copies
Nutshell (2016) 1,943 copies
Machines Like Me (2019) 1,262 copies
First Love, Last Rites: Stories (1975) 1,239 copies
The Daydreamer (1994) 1,115 copies
In Between the Sheets (1978) 881 copies
Lessons (2022) 493 copies
The Cockroach (2019) 381 copies
Lessons: A novel 268 copies
My Purple Scented Novel (2018) 140 copies
For You (2008) 75 copies
Racconti (1998) 47 copies
The Short Stories (1995) 19 copies
Science: Vintage Minis (2019) 19 copies
The Comfort of Strangers [1990 film] (2003) — Writer — 16 copies
Or Shall We Die? (1983) 15 copies
The Innocent / Black Dogs (2004) 15 copies
Soursweet (1988) 14 copies
Leçons (2023) 12 copies
Lecciones (2022) 10 copies
L'espai de la imaginació (2022) 8 copies
Amsterdam | The Innocent (2010) 5 copies
Dead as They Come (2011) 4 copies
Other Minds 4 copies
LLIÇONS (2023) 4 copies
2004 2 copies
The Diagnosis 2 copies
Disguises 2 copies
Betonowy ogród (2008) 1 copy
Sahilde 1 copy
Tidens fylde (1996) 1 copy
Lekcje 1 copy
Hamamböcegi 1 copy
E SHTUNA 1 copy
Atonement, book 1 of 2 (2008) 1 copy
Mother Tongue (2006) 1 copy
Düssel... 1 copy
Al-Kaffarih (2012) 1 copy

Associated Works

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 (2006) — Contributor — 757 copies
Rose Blanche (1985) — Editor, some editions — 669 copies
The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories (1989) — Contributor — 427 copies
Atonement [2008 film] (2008) — Original book — 362 copies
The Wall Jumper (1982) — Introduction, some editions — 304 copies
To the Hermitage (2000) — Tribute to author, some editions — 302 copies
The Best American Essays 2010 (2010) — Contributor — 226 copies
The Oxford Book of English Short Stories (1998) — Contributor — 189 copies
Granta 88: Mothers (2004) — Contributor — 163 copies
Granta 73: Necessary Journeys (2001) — Contributor — 139 copies
The Gates of Paradise (1993) — Contributor — 114 copies
Granta 7: Best of Young British Novelists (1983) — Contributor — 91 copies
Granta 11: Greetings From Prague (1984) — Contributor — 60 copies
The Killing Spirit : An Anthology of Murder for Hire (1996) — Contributor — 33 copies
Dark Voices: The Best from the Pan Book of Horror Stories (1990) — Contributor — 29 copies
The Good Son [1993 film] (1994) — Screenwriter — 26 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1978 (1978) — Contributor — 25 copies
Julma on rakkaus (1992) — Contributor — 17 copies
The Children Act [2017 film] (2018) — Screenwriter — 15 copies
The Cement Garden [1993 film] (2000) — Original novel — 14 copies
A Distant Cry: Stories from East Anglia (2002) — Contributor — 12 copies
American Review 22: The Magazine of New Writing (1975) — Contributor — 11 copies
The Ploughman's Lunch — Screenwriter — 1 copy


1001 (398) 1001 books (424) 20th century (533) 21st century (385) anthology (281) Booker Prize (256) Booker Prize Shortlist (221) British (1,243) British fiction (426) British literature (831) contemporary (430) contemporary fiction (511) ebook (230) England (1,466) English (470) English fiction (284) English literature (837) family (352) fiction (10,461) guilt (224) historical fiction (813) Ian McEwan (296) literary fiction (454) literature (1,007) London (537) love (440) marriage (371) novel (1,878) own (323) read (943) relationships (309) Roman (395) romance (461) science (233) short stories (582) to-read (3,348) UK (397) unread (442) war (399) WWII (1,102)

Common Knowledge



Ian McEwan in Literary Snobs (February 2023)
BRITISH AUTHOR CHALLENGE - AUGUST 2016 - WYNNE JONES & McEWAN in 75 Books Challenge for 2016 (September 2016)
Ian McEwan in Someone explain it to me... (July 2014)


I don't have much to say other than I thoroughly enjoyed the first 175 pages, but the following portions sort of lost it for me. The first and second halves are just so very different in tone, setting, and pacing that starting the second half felt like I had been ripped from one book and dropped into another. Which, considering the fact the second half is 5 years into World War II, I suppose one could make an argument on the purpose of the disjointed feeling, but personally I just didn't like it. I mentioned this earlier but I also just don't really enjoy war stories: I completely understand their importance and how meaningful they can be, but I'd rather read nonfiction accounts of theses moments, like biographies. Again, this is a personal preference, so someone else will likely enjoy the war portions.
Also, I felt like the main conflict and drama presented in the first part never got any worthwhile answers. The audience kind of does for a moment before THAT rug is ripped away, too (spoilers, so I won't say). I feel like McEwan was trying to really get into depth about fiction writing here, but I think I lost the point.
However, I do want to say that I am totally checking out another one of McEwan's books in the future because his writing style is incredibly appealing to me. It's very lyrical, sensual, and the imagery he creates is soooooo nice to read! Holding out some hope that I'll enjoy another work of his even more!
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deborahee | 622 other reviews | Feb 23, 2024 |
BooksInMirror | 180 other reviews | Feb 19, 2024 |
Human Spirit
BooksInMirror | 148 other reviews | Feb 19, 2024 |
I am not a McEwan fan and have tried to read this book twice before but reverted to my tried and trusted method of getting to grips with a book I am finding challenging by having it as an audiobook. I am glad, once again, that I did.

The story opens with Roland, an 11 year old boy, being groomed by his female piano teacher. This goes on for some time, both in Roland's life and the book, and I got bored with it but eventually Roland's life moves on and we follow him through until his death. And what a life he has.

There are two events that are significant and shape the patterns of his life. The first is the grooming and abuse that Roland is submitted to until he is sixteen years old - let's call it what it is. I have seen this time in his life referred to as an affair, a seduction and an attraction but he is younger than sixteen years old and the woman is twenty five and a teacher. The second significant event in his life is his wife leaving him to bring up their child, Lawrence. Together, these two women leave Roland with a life-time of baggage that he only manages to offload at the end of his life. We might say that he doesn't learn lessons easily, if at all.

So, what lessons does he learn? I am not sure he learns any, really. He doesn't seem to learn any from raising his son, nothing about himself and why he won't/can't marry, why he never achieves having been a gifted piano player as a youngster. He ends up playing 'munch music' in hotels at meal times. He tries writing poetry but gives that up and so it goes on with him never settling at anything. He does learn about a 'good' death and how to have one from his wife of a few years when he is older and that lesson is carried over into his own life afterwards. Yes, he does have piano lessons and obviously learns a lot more than most during them but other than that, I don't think he learns much at all.

Running alongside his life, McEwan sets a thread unravelling of historical events, from the Cuban missile crisis to lockdowns due to the pandemic and a lot inbetween. This means that we get the macro view of the world and the micro view of Roland's world - big picture and detailed picture. I wasn't sure if we were meant to make the links between what was happening in the world and Roland's life. Surely the Cuban missile crisis linked with Roland discovering sex is a little too obvious, rockets going off and all that, but everything thereafter passed me by.

The men in the story are not described and as important as the women, although the scene where two middle-aged men have a fight on the banks of a river over who should put their wife's or ex-wife's ashes in the water is quite funny, other than that they are bores. They have affairs, earn too much money and then support Brexit. We don't even really find out in any great detail how Lawrence feels about never seeing his mother and accepting that she never wants to see him.

The women are the heroes and villains in this work. Alissa, Roland's first wife, leaves him and Lawrence because she feels suffocated by them and she is worried that her artistic endeavours in writing will be lost to motherhood. She becomes successful in Germany, her home country, and around the world, but book after book, Roland waits to find himself in it and when he does, of course it is fictionalised and so people think that he has done things that he didn't do.

The larger subject was the ruthlessness of artists. Do we forgive or ignore their single-mindedness and cruelty in the service of their art? Are we more tolerant the greater the art?
Audiobook, no page numbers

McEwan also takes a pop at authors who employ other novelists rather than critics to review each other's work.

At this point in the book I was reminded of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, their relationship and work. Hughes was never forgiven for Plath's suicide and for many years was deemed to be responsible and whilst we don't have suicide in this book, we do have two creative people who struggle to create together or separately whilst together.

The only other work I know by McEwan is Atonement from the film rather than the book and several of the themes are the same: young person, sex and how it affects their life thereafter. Both also have a thread about memory - it isn't always reliable as Roland finds out when he visits his piano teacher to confront her many years later. Roland is aware of this inaccuracy because he doesn't remember reading Joseph Conrad's Youth and Two other Tales at all.

Books play an important role in the story - they are all classics - and because I haven't read any of them, I am not sure how they link into his life but I bet they do. So is his life driven by lessons learnt from reading? At one point Roland decides to take his education into his own hands and creates a list of books he should read. So, here we have education as reading the classics.

This would make an excellent choice for book clubs. There is so much to discuss, not least whether all victims need the legal system to resolve their issues of abuse.
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allthegoodbooks | 45 other reviews | Feb 4, 2024 |


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Douwe Draaisma Contributor
Henk van Renssen Interviewer
Rien Verhoef Translator
Susanna Basso Translator
Bernhard Robben Translator, Übersetzer
Jaime Zulaika Translator
Maria Ekman Translator
France Camus-Pichon Translator, Traduction
Fritz Metsch Designer
Marie Válková Translator
Claire Messud Introduction
Isla Blair Narrator
Laura Lukács Translator
Carole Boyd Narrator
Jill Tanner Narrator
Heleen ten Holt Translator
Simon Prebble Narrator
Suzanne Dean Cover designer
James Wilby Narrator
Stefania Bertola Translator
Max Caulfield Narrator
Jesús Zulaika Translator
Juhani Lindholm Translator
Alojz Keníž Translator
Jorio Dauster Translator
Werner Schmitz Übersetzer
Jan Hansen Translator
David Hockney Cover artist
J. M. W. Turner Cover artist
Lon van Keulen Photographer
Maria Carella Designer
Rory Kinnear Narrator
Anthony Browne Illustrator
Walter Kreye Narrator
Erez Volk Translator
Heleen Ten Holt Translator


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½ 3.7

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