Solar by Ian McEwan


16 Critic Reviews

As a narrative vehicle Solar suffers from some of the problems with braking and acceleration that have been plaguing Toyota hybrids


Michael Beard is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist (and compulsive overeater) 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 halfheartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. Meanwhile, Michael’s fifth marriage is floundering due to his incessant womanizing. When his professional and personal worlds collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Michael to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and save the world from environmental disaster. But can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?
A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man’s ambitions and self-deception, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work—Ian McEwan at his finest.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Ian McEwan

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Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of more than ten books, including the novels The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize, and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award, as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He has also written screenplays, plays, television scripts, a children's book, and the libretto for an oratorio. He lives in London.
Published March 25, 2010 by Anchor. 354 pages
Genres: Other, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Solar
All: 16 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 8

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Mar 29 2010

...while it gets off to a rollicking start, its plot machinery soon starts to run out of gas, sputtering and stalling as it makes its way from one comic set piece to another.

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Below average
Reviewed by Jason Cowley on Mar 13 2010

Much of the first part... reads like an exercise in extended scene-setting, to no obvious purpose or effect.

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Blog Critics

Reviewed by Jack Goodstein on Mar 17 2011

McEwan has written a novel that will have you thinking one minute and laughing out loud the next. He has created a self absorbed, self indulgent protagonist who is as much a villain as he is a hero

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Below average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Apr 01 2010

As a narrative vehicle Solar suffers from some of the problems with braking and acceleration that have been plaguing Toyota hybrids

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Book Reporter

Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg on Jan 23 2011

In SOLAR, he has delivered a wickedly funny novel full of sly insights on the climate change controversy and equally perceptive ones on the foibles of human nature.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Gregg LaGambina on Apr 22 2010

Somehow feeling simultaneously stuffed and hungry, the novel ends with all the satisfaction of waiting around for a check that never comes.

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Entertainment Weekly

Reviewed by Jeff Giles on Mar 24 2010

Solar is the funniest book Ian McEwan has ever written

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Mar 31 2010

...if, like me, you think he's one of England's very best writers, just let "Solar" pass and wait for his next book to eclipse it

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The Independent

Reviewed by Emma Hagestadt on Mar 11 2011

Ian McEwan is not generally known as a writer of laugh-out-loud fiction, but his new novel - inspired by the uncomic subject of climate change - is just that.

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by James Urquhart on Mar 14 2010

Beard coasts through a string of vignettes, which build into a listless plot that remains rather less than the sum of its parts

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Tibor Fischer on Mar 07 2010

The denouement of Solar in sunny New Mexico is not predictable but is predictably bleak, and my only reservation about the novel is that the end is a bit of a jolt, the brakes are applied rather forcefully.

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The Bookbag

Reviewed by Robin Leggett's characteristically well written, highly readable, and thought provoking - not bad for a book labelled as a comic work.

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London Review of Books

Reviewed by Thomas Jones on Mar 25 2010

McEwan’s new novel, Solar, unlike any of his previous work, is avowedly comic. And much of it is extremely funny

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Publishing Perspective

Below average
Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson on Mar 31 2010

While laugh-out-loud funny, most of these incidents bear little relation to the primary action of the novel. Additional sidetracks slow the novel’s momentum

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Reviewed by Martin Shaw on Feb 23 2010

I don’t remember the last time I read a novel as funny as this. A madcap romp from beginning to end

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Transition Culture

Apr 07 2010

Parts of ‘Solar’ had me laughing out loud, and I was gripped to the end to see what comes of Beard as the many chickens of his life come home to roost as the story unfolds

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Reader Rating for Solar

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Alireza Rahnema

Alireza Rahnema 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list