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Saturday (2005)

by Ian McEwan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,549218571 (3.68)245
From the pen of a master-the #1 bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Atonement-comes an astonishing novel that captures the fine balance of happiness and the unforeseen threats that can destroy it. A brilliant, thrilling page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Saturday is a masterful 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. Henry wakes to the comfort of his large home in central London on this, his day off. He is as at ease here as he is in the operating room. Outside the hospital, the world is not so easy or predictable. There is an impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years before. On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne's day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary. After an unusual sighting in the early morning sky, he makes his way to his regular squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands 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. To Perowne's professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man, who in turn believes the surgeon has humiliated him-with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep his family alive.… (more)
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» See also 245 mentions

English (190)  French (8)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Norwegian (2)  Swedish (2)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (217)
Showing 1-5 of 190 (next | show all)
Saturday is set in 2003 and stretches over the course of one day. We follows Henry, a neurosurgeon, from the moment he awakes in the early hours and sees a burning plane coming down over London, to when he finally gets to sleep over 24 hours later.

There are meditations on the huge protest against the invasion of Iraq, the various cases that Henry operates on at work, and the nature of love, family and growing old.

I found the political backdrop particularly fascinating, as it's interesting (and a bit depressing!) to compare the preoccupations of the time with our current turbulent climate. I also really liked the depiction of Henry's family and their relationships with each other.

It's not a hugely eventful novel, except for a tense section towards the end. I was in danger of getting weary of the intensely detailed but uneventful style early on, but once I got past a tedious squash game that goes on forever (and ever), I started to enjoy it more. It's actually plotted fairly well, with certain themes and scenes looping back on themselves throughout.

I'm not in a rush to read much else by McEwan (although I did quite like The Children's Act), but I'm pleased that I enjoyed Saturday more than I thought I would! ( )
  mooingzelda | Jan 17, 2021 |
One day in the life of surgeon Henry Perowne. Comfortably settled in London, he is nevertheless beset by fears about the state of the world. It is 2003.

We follow Henry as he goes through his day, up to the dramatic good night.

I read this some time ago and cannot remember details, only that I liked it and it was quick and easy to read. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
First adventure into audiobooks. Found it hard to follow along at times because it was read in a British accent (duh, Nan). ( )
  amandanan | Jun 6, 2020 |
This book more or less tries to prove, I guess, that by following the actions, thoughts and feelings of one person during one day you will know all about this person.
The person central to this novel is Henry Perowne, a 48 years old neurosurgeon. The day: Saturday, the 15th of March 2003. Location: London.
Henry wakes up early, feeling elated. He sees a plane, burning, in the sky. He talks to his son. Makes love to his wife. Goes squashing with a friend. Gets involved in a minor car accident with a couple of rather aggressive young men. Goes shopping. Visits his mom who is an Alzheimer patient. Goes by a bar to hear his son play jazz music. Cooks dinner. Talks to his daughter. It's all pretty boring really, until the guys from the car accident come by to threaten Henry's family. The action doesn't last long though. Pretty soon all goes back to normal.
Ian McEwan is a good writer. I love his sentences and his observations about everyday life. But I learned that for me, that's not quite enough to enjoy a book. I need a story, so it seems. A plot. This book kind of lacked the plot. Also, Henry is just not a very interesting character and I didn't feel anything for (or against) him. Which kind of left me wondering why this book was written. ( )
  Tinwara | May 26, 2020 |
The main character is a neurosurgeon who grapples with consciousness as the firing of neurons and consciousness as all the beauty and pain he experiences every day. It is a sophisticated account of that play inside all our minds, an almost-reconciliation of that tug-of-war between our third-person biology and our first-person understanding of it. ( )
  jostie13 | May 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 190 (next | show all)
L’acuité du regard et le sens du détail dévastateur. La profondeur de la réflexion politique autant que philosophique.
added by miniwark | editTélérama, Michel Abescat (Oct 14, 2006)
 
Why review a work of fiction for The Indexer? Chiefly because of the author’s use of several very different taxonomies covering neurosurgery, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, blues music, squash and fish. The cumulative effect of this detail is to emphasize that, despite much knowledge, training, experience and wide interests, Perowne is powerless to control unexpected horrors. He uses his brain to heal other brains, but he cannot fathom the workings of the mind. The complex taxonomy of neurosurgery is used twice: at the opening of the book and again near the end. The author could have maintained the reader’s interest and suspense with more simple language, but his careful research has produced a precision that gives a far stronger sense of authenticity, not only to medical indexers who will have little trouble following the procedures. Again with Alzheimer’s disease: the detail contrasts with the lively mother and swimming champion whom Perowne remembers when he visits her in a nursing home. As for Huntington’s chorea, the taxonomy is essential to explain the unusual behaviour of the man who threatens him; he is not the average street thug. The squash game is, again, described moment by moment and gives insight to Perowne’s character: he is desperately keen to win, coming close to an acrimonious dispute with his anaesthetist with whom he has an ideal professional relationship. Even the fishmonger’s slab is described in taxonomic detail which leads to Perowne’s contemplation of moral matters such as whether fish feel pain.
 
Overall, however, Saturday has the feel of a neoliberal polemic gone badly wrong; if Tony Blair—who makes a fleeting personal appearance in the book, oozing insincerity—were to appoint a committee to produce a "novel for our time," the result would surely be something like this.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, John Banville (pay site) (May 26, 2005)
 
[T]he lambent, stream-of-consciousness narrative that Mr. McEwan uses so adroitly in these pages. In fact, "Saturday" reads like an up-to-the-moment, post-9/11 variation on Woolf's classic 1925 novel "Mrs. Dalloway."
 
We have learned to expect the worst from Ian McEwan. Since his debut collection of stories, First Love, Last Rites, his fiction has always dwelt at the heart of places we hope never to find ourselves in: the vacancies left in lives by the kidnapped child or the lost lover; the mined no-man's-land that follows extreme violence or sexual obsession. His subject has always been damage and the way the darkest events in a life will drain the rest of love. For McEwan, happiness has rarely gone unpunished.
 

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McEwan, Ianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilby, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
For instance? Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organised power. Subject to tremendous controls. Ina condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values? You-you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest. Or else an ingrate, dilettante, idiot. There, Herzog, thought Herzog, since you ask for the instance, is the way it runs.
-- Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964
Dedication
To Will and Greg McEwan
First words
Some hours before dawn Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, wakes to find himself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to his feet.
Quotations
Kdyby Perowne projevoval sklony k náboženství, k nadpřirozeným vysvětlením, mohl by si pohrávat s představou, že byl povolán: tím, že byl probuzen a s neobvykle povzbuzenou myslí bezdůvodně přistoupil k oknu, měl by vzít na vědomí jakýsi skrytý řád, vnější inteligenci, jež mu chce sdělit nebo ukázat něco významného. Jenže neklidné město si nespavce doslova pěstuje, samo o sobě je nespící entitou, jejíž komunikační dráty nikdy nepřestávají bzučet, a mezi tolika miliony se musejí najít lidé, kteří se dívají z okna v době, kdy by normálně spali. A nejsou to každou noc titíž lidé. Že by tím vyvoleným měl být on, a ne někdo jiný, je náhoda. Ve hře je prostý antropogenetický princip. Primitivní přemýšlení o nadpřirozenu má sklony přerůst v to, čemu jeho kolegové psychiatři říkají představa o vlastní důležitosti. Přehánění jedine, přetváření světa v souladu s vlastními potřebami, neschopnost přemýšlet o vlastní bezvýznamnosti. Z Henryho hlediska patří takové uvažování do spektra, na jehož vzdáleném konci se jako opuštěný chrám tyčí psychóza. (s. 21)
Takhle začíná onen dlouhý proces, v jehož průběhu se stáváte dítětem svého dítěte. A nakonec od něj jednoho dne uslyšíte třeba: "Tati, jestli zase začneš brečet, jde se okamžitě domů." (s. 33)
Jaké štěstí, že žena, kterou miluje, je zároveň jeho manželka. (s. 40)
Tenhle všední cyklus usínání a probouzení, ve tmě pod vlastní přikrývkou, s další bytostí, bledá, hebká, citlivá bradavka, přibližující se obličeje v rituálu lásky, nakrátko zabydlené ve věčné potřebe tepla, pohodlí, bezpečí, proplétání údů, aby bylo možno přitáhnout se k sobě blíž - prostá denní útěcha, snad až příliš samozřejmá, že se na ni dá za úsvitu snadno zapomenout. Zaznamenal to kdy nějaký básník? (s. 49)
Sex je jiný živel, láme čas a rozum, je biologický hyperprostor vzdálený od vědomé existence tak jako sny nebo jako voda od vzduchu. Jiný živel, jak říkávala jeho matka, jiný živel - když si zaplaveš, Henry, den se ti promění. A dnešek bude jistě v porovnání s ostatnými jedinečný. (s.50)
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From the pen of a master-the #1 bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Atonement-comes an astonishing novel that captures the fine balance of happiness and the unforeseen threats that can destroy it. A brilliant, thrilling page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Saturday is a masterful 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. Henry wakes to the comfort of his large home in central London on this, his day off. He is as at ease here as he is in the operating room. Outside the hospital, the world is not so easy or predictable. There is an impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years before. On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne's day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary. After an unusual sighting in the early morning sky, he makes his way to his regular squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands 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. To Perowne's professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man, who in turn believes the surgeon has humiliated him-with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep his family alive.

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