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An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel on climate change

Michael Beard is 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. A compulsive womaniser, 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 collide in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and save the world from environmental disaster. Ranging from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of New Mexico, SOLAR is a serious and darkly satirical novel, showing human frailty struggling with the most pressing and complex problem of our time.A story of one man's greed and self-deception, it is a profound and stylish new work from one of the world's great writers.


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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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    April 1, 2011


    304 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
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    • Abbey's Bookshop
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
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    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
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    • eBooks
  • Audio CD


    May 3, 2010


    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au