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About the book
  • Published: 1 April 2011
  • ISBN: 9780099549024
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $26.99


An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel on global warming

Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing – 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. An inveterate philanderer, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her.

When Beard’s professional and personal worlds are entwined in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself, a chance for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.

With a global scope, Solar is a comedy dealing directly with the crises of today. A story of one man’s ambitions and self-deceptions, it is a startling and stylish new departure in the work of one of the world’s great writers.

  • Pub date: 1 April 2011
  • ISBN: 9780099549024
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $26.99

About the Author

Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is the critically acclaimed author of seventeen books. 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; On Chesil Beach; Solar; Sweet Tooth; The Children Act; and Nutshell, which was a Number One bestseller. Atonement, Enduring Love, The Children Act and On Chesil Beach have all been adapted for the big screen.

Also by Ian McEwan

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Praise for Solar

“A novel that promises comedy as well as crisis”


“McEwan has already aired extracts ... and the warmth, humour and zest of the book were unmistakable”

Sunday Times

“McEwan avoids the problem of how to dramatise and emotive area of science by uncharacteristically and highly effectively deploying a sly streak of comedy.”

Claire Allfree, Metro

“Climate-change comedy that's every bit as brilliant as its title suggests”

The Sunday Times

“Solar has an engagingly direct, bleakly comic view of science and scientists. It also convinces.”

Times Literary Supplement

“From an early stage, [McEwan's] sumptuously textured language rested on a flair for finely engineered design.”

The Independent

“Michael Beard is a comic creation in the same class as Martin Amis's John Self. Indeed, if Money could be seen as the high point of Amis's career, summing up the excesses of the Eighties, so Solar is likely to come to be regarded as the equivalent for McEwan. For this novel takes on the political obsession of our age - climate change - and fashions out of it a satirical masterpiece... McEwan is in many ways the closest thing we have to a national novelist... it will come to be regarded as a classic”

Lorna Bradbury, Daily Telegraph

“Vivacious and sprawling, a beautifully and compellingly written novel...McEwan's achievement is the brilliant creation of a flawed, larger than life character who all but walks off the page to shake your hand.”

Ruth Scurr, The Times

“This is an absorbing, accomplished, instructive, and very funny novel bye one of fiction's most fecund minds”

Country Life

“McEwan's reputation as one of Britain's greatest living writers remained safely intact”

Sunday Express

“He's green and he should be read”

The Observer

“McEwan excels at climate science but his protagonist makes you shudder.”

The Observer

“A sensitive study of selfishness versus altruism”

Mail on Sunday

“An ambivalent, comic picaresque of cunning and subtle wisdom ... McEwan's established readers will enjoy it, as will everyone else, not only for the humour but for many moments of eerie truth”

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

“Maybe most intractably, there's the problem of response-fatigue. Pressing invitations to think about global warming aren't thin on the ground. McEwan's solution is both elegant and surprising: instead of applying doom and gloom, he reaches for a lighter, more comic mode than usual."..."...the overarching plot pulls off a clinching novelistic coup, using comedy to sneak grimmer matters past the reader's defences.”

Christopher Tayler, Guardian

“Climate-change comedy that's every bit as brilliant as its title suggests”

The Sunday Times

“Masterful prose”

Time Out

“A sharp, satirical tale”


“Superbly written with some sublime set pieces.... Read it and purr with pleasure. Solar radiates joy from start to finish and is never less than entertaining. It can't fail to put a smile on your face.”

Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

“Among the best and most entertaining of McEwan's books”

Stephanie Cross, The Lady

“This is an entertaining book and there are, as always, exquisite moments of observation”

Catherine Nixey, The Tablet

“The best Ian McEwan I've read so far”

Farm Lane Books blog

“Reliably entertaining”

DJ Taylor, Literary Review

“Sizzling lucidity distinguishes this enormously entertaining novel about rationality and unreason. Right up to its final moment - teasingly poised between the heart-warming and heart-stopping... - scarcely a page fails to dazzle with some wittily caught perception about contemporary life. Blazing with imaginative and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance”

Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times

“Beard is as robust and full-fleshed and ebullient a character as McEwan has come up with. And in Solar, 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

“There are only a handful of contemporary novelists whose new books are viewed as cultural events", and one of these is Ian McEwan...A Booker contender, for sure”

Cara-Enjoy your Flight


James Delingpole, The Spectator

“Excellent...the turn here is new and interesting.”

Michael Wood, The New Yorker Review

“The science doesn't take over the story, but it gives it necessary body and depth, and helps in attempting to understand the work of a climate change physical in some way.' 'McEwan displays Michael's character brilliantly.' 'Solar raises a fundamental, and tropical, point- how we race (or slowly plod) to reverse climate change.'”


“Ian McEwan's venture into comedy for his latest novel, Solar is a triumph. McEwan has researched his topic thoroughly and environmentalists will find much to enjoy here”

The Environmentalist

“I love just about all the books of his...his latest novel, which I'm reading now, is every bit as good as his previous work.”

Gerald Scarfe, Daily Express

“McEwan's first overtly comic novel promises sunshine on several fronts”

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

“McEwan is on top form in an exuberant and comic tale of a priapic and cynical Nobel scientist wrestling with both his conscience and his outsized appetites”

Sunday Times Summer Reading

“Absorbing, comic and hugely enjoyable”

Emma Lee-Potter, Daily Express Summer Reading

“Human beings are frail, Mother Nature is implacable - and old McEwan is as bleakly entertaining as ever.”

Kate Saunders, The Times

“Hugely entertaining and the deserved winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction”


“The book opens up another dimension of McEwan's genius as a novelist... Right up to the final moment scarcely a page fails to dazzle. Blazing with imaginative and intellectual energy, Solar is a stellar performance.”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

“Takes on climate change through the weirdly compelling personage of Martin Beard, a scientist on the edge in every way. McEwan is never less than entertaining.”

Erica Wagner, The Times, Christmas round up

“McEwan's book, which sizzles with intelligence, offers a rich spectrum of comedy, form zestful farce to satiric wit”

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Christmas Books

“Crafty, comic spin on climate change”

Boyd Tonkin, Independent, Christmas round up

“A marvellous return to witty form”

Nick Curtis, Evening Standard, Christmas round up

“Ian McEwan's dark, satirical novel takes one of the obsessions of our era - climate change - and forges it into a masterpiece.”

Telegraph - Editor's Choice

“It's an unusual foray into satire - part misadventure, but descending into something much bleaker.”

Holly Kyte, Seven

“Ian McEwan is not generally known as a write of laugh-out-loud fiction, but Solar - inspired by the uncomic subject of climate change - is just that.”

Emma Hagestadt, Independent

“McEwan is a master at the height of his powers, and his prose sparkles and glitters with mischief and malice. He pokes fun at government scientific policy, at international conferences - at M-theory, even. You'll be chuckling so hard you won't notice that this is really a tragedy. And by then, it's too late.”

Irish Post

“McEwan has succeeded in producing a novel that is both profoundly serious and hilariously funny.”

Mail on Sunday

“Entertaining - and often very funny”

Sunday Times, Summer Reading

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