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Solar

3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  18,386 Ratings  ·  2,340 Reviews
An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel on climate change.

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
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Paperback, 332 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Vintage Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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Mari I'm writing a paper arguing that Beard is himself meant to represent humanity's approach to the environmental disaster: he lacks the ability to take…moreI'm writing a paper arguing that Beard is himself meant to represent humanity's approach to the environmental disaster: he lacks the ability to take responsibility for his own actions, acts in his own self-interest, and relishes in excess (both in food and women) to achieve his own pleasures at the detriment to himself and others.

I think McEwan's trying to tell us that by ignoring/failing to take large-scale concerted efforts against Global Warming simply because environmental issues don't seem to cause immediate catastrophe in our own lives we are effectively acting like the despicable Michael Beard.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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brian
Feb 03, 2010 brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
ian mcewan hates you, dear reader.
have no illusions.
the guy flings more shit and pukes more bile in solar than g.g. allin ever dared dream.

check it: mcewan dazzles in select passages, but the sum ain't always more than its parts -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. those perfect books with clearly defined themes, succinct, streamlined… yuk. you can have 'em. we like the meandering messes, shot to shit with all the baggage. but at the end of the slop… we've gotta feel something, it's gotta
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Manny
Jun 25, 2012 Manny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ian McEwan addicts
The novel is completed. He has posted the bulky typescript to his publisher - old-fashioned, he prefers this unnecessary gesture to the casual economy of e-mailing a PDF - and now he is free of the tormented inner voice telling him to reword, rejig, rewrite, rethink.

He knows it is not as good as his earlier books, which sometimes feel as though they were written by a near stranger, by a person he only half-remembers being. He has poured some of his confusion and disappointment into the novel's
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Kemper
The main character in Solar can’t control his appetites. He eats like Jabba the Hut at a casino buffet, drinks like an alcoholic fish and chases women every chance he gets. He’s also an unorganized slob who would rather just travel or stay somewhere else rather than clean up his own living space. On top of being greedy, opportunistic, selfish and lazy, he has no regard for the future. He can rationalize any potential warning signs of health issues or unpleasant business he’d rather not deal with ...more
Jessica
Aug 31, 2010 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who won't drink martin amis neat; swingers
Shelves: aborted-efforts
So I imagine young novelists are a promiscuous bunch. Writers play around and flirt with all manner of novels: date one genre for a few months before finding it oppressive.... move in too quickly with a voice that turns out to be all wrong for them.... have one-night stands with forms that are way too experimental. And I'm sure it's great fun for awhile, but it's not what they're ultimately after. No novelist wants to play the field forever! And some do find that special novel early, while for o ...more
Mal
Jun 06, 2011 Mal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading in bed last night--I was a little more than half-way through--and it hit me: it is taking way too long to read this thing. Why? Not because it's a big book, or particularly difficult to understand, but because it is so boring. I dread opening it each day so I put it off. I read anything else. I closed it and tossed it aside. I'm done. I'll go find a new one tomorrow at the library.

It's really disappointing too, because when I read the premise, it sounded great! But McEwan spends s
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David
Nobel Laureate in Physics Michael Beard is a truly revolting piece of work: a slave to his appetites, whose progress through the novel is just one orgiastic frenzy of wenching, gourmandizing self-indulgence because, after all, curbing his sybaritic excess would just be too .... inconvenient. If you think it's a stroke of genius by Ian McEwan to use this troglodyte as a heavy-handed symbol of the kind of behavior that's causing global warming, then good for you. Let me know if you still feel that ...more
Helle
Feb 28, 2016 Helle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-lit
Out of all his novels, Solar, according to Ian McEwan himself, is the one that bombed in the United States. Before reading the novel, I wondered why this was so. Having read it, I see two possible reasons for this: one, that the efforts of the United States in the battle to save the planet are criticized (by the main character, Michael Beard) as being too ineffectual, or two: that there is so much scientific jargon in the novel - the importance of it in the aforementioned battle notwithstanding ...more
Leo Robertson
Not bad at all :)

The kinda 3* you're happy to spend time with, though. McEwan is a comfy writer.
http://4archive.org/board/lit/thread/...

I know most reviewers are happy to have spent time with a book if they end up giving it 3* but I guess I just value my time more than they do ahahaha!! xD!!

If climate change kills us all (global warming is a scarier term, but we still need something worse, like worldwide asphyxiation or something), let it be said that novelist Ian McEwan pontificated comically o
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Stela
Jun 24, 2015 Stela rated it it was amazing

Should I feel ashamed? According to some critics of McEwan’s Solar I should, since its hero, Michael Beard, is a despicable character, a philanderer, a plagiarist, an egocentric and a criminal liar… whom I totally liked. Moreover, it is a long time since I have been so immersed in a reading to forget everything around me – last week I almost missed the metro stop on my way to university, such I was enjoying this crazy, crazy book, which rose conflicting reactions in its readers.

One of the most a
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Carolyn

In this satirical novel Ian McEwan creates the unlikeable Michael Beard, Nobel Prize winning Physicist. With his best work behind him, Michael is an overweight womaniser who lives off speaking engagements and memberships of Boards. At the start of the novel he has recently been appointed to head a new Centre looking for novel ways of generating renewable energy.

For some reason Michael Beard is a magnet to younger women. He is currently on his 5th marriage and, for some reason that is not clear t
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Cynthia
May 14, 2010 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Nobel winning physicist is approaching the descending side of his life. Michael Beard’s had five wives with each marriage leaving a bigger pile of emotional junk in its wake. He can’t or won’t grow up. He just stays in motion hoping it will all sort itself out. It doesn’t. It gets worse. By the end of the book there are sweltering piles of personal and professional cacao threatening to fall on him.

In classic McEwen style there is a pivot incident that changes or enhances the trajectory of Bear
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Noce
Jul 16, 2011 Noce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Non posso dire che non mi sia piaciuto, ma non sto nemmeno stappando lo champagne.

Andiamo per ordine.

McEwan stilisticamente parlando è a dir poco brillante.
Anche se parlasse della passeggiata col suo cane, riuscirebbe a far resuscitare i morti con quelle sue frasi che sembrano buttate così a caso, come quando di getto si tira giù la lista della spesa, ma che sono dissacranti, taglienti e ironiche, e a maggior ragione illuminanti. E vi assicuro, che raggiungere questi risultati tutti insieme,
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Richard Derus
Rating: two grudging stars of five (p81)

In the middle of a paragraph, a thunderbolt struck me: I don't like Ian MxEwan. I didn't like Atonement...I thought the damned kid shoulda been stoned...I didn't like Saturday...and I do NOT like this tedious tale of a credit-grabbing bore of a has-been.

So that's that. Like David Lodge, I shall leave the McEwanizing to the Brits and their fellow travelers. I myownself will be hornswoggled if I EVER consent to open another of his books.

Rating: 4* of five

The
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Maia
For days I've been trying to think all the reasons why this novel disappointed me so much, even as I was one of the many in our bookclub to enthusiastically vote it for our April read. Normally I quite enjoy Ian McEwan, though other than On Chesil Beach, his books--even when I admire them--leave me with a tingling sense of annoyance that I never before understood.

Until I read today's excellent NY Times review, which, summed up, pretty much labels it an overwritten, overstretched 'too-good' novel
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Paul
Jan 01, 2013 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-novels
This is the first McEwan I have read (not sure how I’ve avoided him up till now, because I have a few on my shelf waiting to be read). It was a fairly easy read, but I admit I wasn’t impressed, even though McEwan writes well. It is supposed to be satire and comedy and I know the protagonist, Michael Beard is not supposed to be likeable (that bit is successful), but for me the whole did not work.
The novel is in three sections set in 2000, 2005 and 2009 seeing Beard move from 53 to 62; from the de
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Ellie
It's been well-documented that Michael Beard, the protagonist of Ian McEwan's novel, Solar, is one of McEwan's more unlikable characters. But then I think that McEwan generally likes the unlikable-I find Briony from Atonement close to unbearable, completely so after she's grown. I can hardly think of a character of his that I actually like.

Despite this, I like McEwan very much. His writing is near pitch-perfect. And there's something freeing in seeing the seedier side of humanity at the center
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Michael
Oct 23, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great satire of a scientist who is all too human in his appetites, insecurities, and problems in relationships. The protagonist, Michael Beard, is a Nobel laureate in quantum physics who has run out of ideas and bumbles through marriage after marriage, a lovable misanthrope and solipsist. McEwan portrays very realistically how such a physicist might hitch his sail to the movement for renewable energy, artificial photosynthesis in particular. We root for him as his personal disasters threaten his ...more
Marc Maitland
This is Ian McEwan’s latest novel. It is by far the funniest of his writings, and some of the scenes he vividly paints literally had me laughing out aloud. I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing any of these miniature masterpieces, but they combine an acute awareness of human nature, double-entrendre and irony that have long been the hallmarks of authors such as Michael Frayn.





The “hero” of the novel is an inherently unlikeable person, rich in the unattractive traits of a certain type of self-i
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Tony
Apr 25, 2010 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McEwan, Ian. SOLAR. (2010). *****. Mr. McEwan has done it again – created the perfect novel that explores a man’s life and life work. This time, his subject is Michael Beard. Dr. Beard is a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist who won the prize by elucidating and expanding on one of Einstein’s basic theoretical proposals. This work was done when he was in his twenties. Now, it’s twenty years later and he hasn’t been able to anything of any note since. He has been living off his past glory b ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
energie alternative spese alla solita vecchia maniera


Michael Beard è un premio Nobel che vive di rendita sul suo passato glorioso, è un personaggio sgradevole, tignoso, di quelli inglesi vecchio stampo con la scopa nel sedere e la spocchia immotivata di chi ce l'ha fatta e non sa nemmeno lui come, oltretutto ha avuto cinque mogli che ha sempre tradito, pur non essendo una bellezza ha avuto fortuna, ma lui questo non lo sa...lui pensa che una deroga qua e una là non facciano di lui lo stronzo ana
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Bill
I was disappointed and surprised with this novel. I was disappointed since I expected much more from McEwan's prose and because this novel spent so much time on Beard's love life and gluttony, which bored me. It surprised me as the science and the problems of a scientist's career peaking early were done so well by someone with McEwan's apparent background. This was the 1st of his books I've read, but was familiar with his reputation.

The book has 2 threads—anthropomorphic climate change and Bear
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Hezza H
Dec 19, 2012 Hezza H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think my first Goodreads review has to be defending this old favourite, which is absolutely in my top three Ian McEwan books and also my top twenty books ever. You're not interested in me, but when someone who reads a significant amount has a book among their all-time favourites that book must have some redeeming qualities, I find.

Solar is the story of Michael Beard. Michael Beard has been characterised among reviewers and Ian McEwan fans as "obnoxious", and they say this ruins the book, becau
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DJ TweakyClean
I admit that I probably should not have picked this book up after reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I was halfway through this novel, when all I could think about was how much I wanted to start "The Girl Who Played With Fire." The issue ultimately though, I realized when I finished this was that, where McEwan has created characters in the past for whom I find to be reprehensible (Atonement) or just plain idiotic (Amsterdam), I still find myself compelled and even emotionally connected i ...more
Teresa
May 02, 2010 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I started the second part of this book, I started wondering if this could end up being the first McEwan book that I didn't like at all. But I also had the feeling that I could trust him, and I was right to do so -- the 'bad' feeling quickly went away.

Some of the humor was not to my liking, in particular a slapstick-y episode early on and a 'gross-out' scene later on. But the latter wasn't too bad, considering, and I still could appreciate how well done the former was. A few things later on s
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Julia
Apr 29, 2016 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Ganz knappe 3 Sterne muss ich schon geben - ich mochte den Protagonisten nicht (wie auch?), wohl aber den Schreibstil. Trotzdem führte die Geschichte nirgendwo so richtig hin. Das Ende war dann offen - was an und für sich nicht schlimm ist, in diesem Fall aber doch sehr abrupt war. Gut, was soll man noch hinzufügen - aber der Abschluss war trotzdem der Grund warum ich mich fast schwer tue, den dritten Stern anzuklicken.
Julian Lees
Mar 06, 2015 Julian Lees rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favourite McEwan novel but a fine story nonetheless. Michael Beard is one of those characters you want to throttle publicly, yet privately you egg him on.
Hanneke
May 01, 2014 Hanneke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Solar' van Ian McEwan is een satirische roman en wijkt af van al zijn voorgaande boeken, die meestal toch behoorlijk macaber zijn. Het was echt een verrassing voor me dat McEwan enorm hilarisch kan schrijven. Het boek heeft de bestrijding van klimaatverandering als thema, maar op werkelijk idealisme kan men de hoofdpersoon niet betrappen. Professor Beard verleent zijn naam aan deze goede zaak alleen maar als hij er zelf beter van wordt. De professor is een volstrekt immorele persoon die al meer ...more
Elizabeth Marshall
Another masterpiece from the brilliant Ian McEwan. I decided to start reading this book because I read 'Atonement', loved it and wanted to read more by this author. 'Solar' is a witty, compelling and fascinating novel about a complicated physicist, Michael Beard, riding the wave of fame and success that came from his younger self's achievement, a Nobel prize, with his best work well and truly behind him. We join Beard on the brink of his sixth divorce and the start of his begrudged pursuit to so ...more
Rory
May 21, 2010 Rory rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people generally interested in sustainable energy ideas OR McEwan die-hards
You know what, Ian? Let me know when you stop writing meticulously detailed books about the inner lives of boorish, privileged, emotionally lost middle-aged dudes and go back to writing those scorching, soaring novels about whole families and whole eras. If you DO go back to those.
Fil
Jan 25, 2016 Fil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chi apprezza lo stile dell'autore (e a un mio amico).
STILE TOP

Lo stile di McEwan e' sempre stupendo. Ironico, pulito, arguto. Inutile negarlo: pochi riescono a scrivere come lui.
Nella mia libreria "Stile-top-10" e' al primo posto da parecchie settimane e dubito che a breve dovrà cedere lo scettro.

Le tematiche trattate sono di due tipi, fisiche e psicologiche. Con l'aggettivo "fisiche" non intendo il fisico del protagonista (di cui parecchie donne si innamorano) ma la fisica che si studia al liceo. Queste tematiche fisiche, come l'attuale problema
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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“Being late was a special kind of modern suffering, with blended elements of rising tension, self-blame, self-pity, misanthropy, and a yearning for what could not be had outside theoretical physics: time reversal.” 10 likes
“Virtue is too passive, too narrow. Virtue can motivate individuals, but for groups, societies, a whole civilisation, it’s a weak force. Nations are never virtuous, though they might sometimes think they are.” 7 likes
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