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Saturdayby Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan's new novel is generous, contemplative, and moving and in good company, joining classics like Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses that take place during a single day. McEwan intricately weaves characters and themes towards an eloquent and wrenching finale, and the beauty of his prose propels the plot with poetic momentum. Saturday is a gentle, brilliant, and inspiring work.
"The man who could staunchly write, as the southern extremity of Manhattan was still awash in fire and stench, that in effect Amor vincit omnia here lucidly shows us that civilization and culture and the life of the mind, fragile as they seemingly are, nonetheless have a resilience that can outlast barbarism." Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"There is no secret as to why Ian McEwan has gained such a large, intelligent and devoted readership. In book after book, and now, especially in Saturday, he has gone directly against the grain of fashionable contemporary cynicism and proved that a novel can be topical without being either obvious or dogmatic, that a writer can derive aesthetic sense from confronting the world's concerns." Allen Barra, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
"The imagination is blessed by its holder, just as the humanities humanize only those who are willing to be humanized. Ian McEwan's imagination is worth cherishing; Mohammed Atta's is not. It is just this tension that surfaces in his fine and affecting new novel, and which is never quite resolved." James Wood, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
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. Henry wakes to the relative comfort of his home on this, his day off. He is almost as comfortable 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 and his children are now grown and making their way into this world as adults.
On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne?s day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary: from an unusual sighting in the early morning sky to his usual squash game, and from trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of war protestors filling the streets of London, to a seemingly minor car accident.
Ian McEwan has written a masterful novel that keeps you balanced on the edge of your seat as Perowne?s happy safe world is unexpectedly shattered. At the heart of this extraordinary novel is the acute awareness of the details of our relationships, of life and of love, and the unforeseen violence that can threaten our peace.
"In the predawn sky on a Saturday morning, London neurosurgeon Henry Perowne sees a plane with a wing afire streaking toward Heathrow. His first thought is terrorism — especially since this is the day of a public demonstration against the pending Iraq war. Eventually, danger to Perowne and his family will come from another source, but the plane, like the balloon in the first scene of Enduring Love, turns out to be a harbinger of a world forever changed. Meanwhile, the reader follows Perowne through his day, mainly via an interior monologue. His cerebral peregrination records, in turn, the meticulous details of brain surgery, a car accident followed by a confrontation with a hoodlum, a far-from-routine squash game, a visit to Perowne's mother in a nursing home and a family reunion. It is during the latter event, at the end of the day, that the ominous pall that has hovered over the narrative explodes into violence, and Perowne's sense that the world has become 'a commuity of anxiety' plays out in suspense, delusion, heroism and reconciliation. The tension throughout the novel between science (Perowne's surgery) and art (his daughter is a poet; his son a musician) culminates in a synthesis of the two, and a grave, hopeful, meaningful, transcendent ending. If this novel is not as complex a work as McEwan's bestselling Atonement, it is nonetheless a wise and poignant portrait of the way we live now." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An increasingly mellowed but no less gripping McEwan....A sort of middle-class humanist manifesto: when you find yourself fortunate beyond all measure in a random universe, gratitude, generosity, and compassion are a decent response." Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. McEwan has not only produced one of the most powerful pieces of post-9/11 fiction yet published, but also fulfilled that very primal mission of the novel: to show how we — a privileged few of us, anyway — live today." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Saturday lives up to its own standards throughout. Its author's scrupulous application of his talent merits real gratitude from its readers. Saturday is distinguished by an intense literary imagination that is fundamentally scientific in its vision and its criteria." Marek Kohn, The Independent
"One of the most oblique but also most serious contributions to the post-9/11, post-Iraq war literature, [Saturday] succeeds in ridiculing on every page the view of its hero that fiction is useless to the modern world." Mark Lawson, The Guardian
"Few literary events are today met with as much enthusiasm as the publication of a McEwan novel. Saturday, a brilliant and graceful hymn to the contented contemporary man, will be greeted with cheers." Anita Shreve, The Boston Globe
"Saturday is a tightly wound tour de force of several strands — a Hitchcockian thriller, an allegory of the post-9/11 world, the portrait of a very attractive family, and a meditation on the fragility of life and all that we most value." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
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, Perownes 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 Perownes 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.
About the Author
Ian McEwan is the author of nine novels, including Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1998, and Atonement.
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