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, Perowne’s 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 Perowne’s 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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Some hours before dawn Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, wakes to find himself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to his feet. It’s not clear to him when exactly he became conscious, nor does it seem relevant. He’s never done such a thing...
1. Saturday’s epigraph comes from Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow, whose novel Herzog features an academic facing the shortcomings of his life. The novel was published in 1964; how might the history of the early Sixties have influenced Bellow’s perspective? Forty years later, how does Ian...
–The Globe and Mail
“[McEwan’s] writing has been almost critically unimpeachable. . . . Of all the writers currently at work, McEwan stands with very few others as one who can . . . inspire . . . complexly formed feelings of deep admiration.”
–Books in Canada
“McEwan brilliantly conveys the process whereby a man’s competitive instincts go overboard and he becomes desperate to win a squash game or and argument.”
“Skilfully blends the joys of food, music and sport with the uncertainty of an age undergoing disturbing transition.”
"This is a gripping portrait of a man who suspects he’s heading downhill. And there are transcendent moments, like the brief, utterly heartbreaking sequence describing the encounter with his mother, as devastating as it is subtle. Fascinating.”
"Saturday is thoughtful, finely written, rich in detail and analysis, a portrait of a living mind.
–The Gazette (Montreal)
“[McEwan] is a towering figure in the world of letters. . . . One of the smartest authors at work today. ”
“This season’s most discussed novel. . . . McEwan again and again proves his virtuosity. . . . In McEwan’s hands . . . wars and politicians and terrorists mingle with private satisfactions . . . McEwan appropriates the subject of personal joy, brings it back into serious literature, and makes it, for the moment at least, his private literary property.”
“Mr. McEwan has not only produced one of the most powerful pieces of post-9/11 fiction yet published, but has also fulfilled that very primal mission of the novel: to show how we–a privileged few of us, anyway – live today.”
–The New York Times
"In Saturday he remains at the top of his game — assured, accomplished and ambitious... [Saturday] offers something transcendent, impossible to dissect."
—Lewis Jones, Telegraph
"operating at the height of his formidable powers...Artistically, morally and politically, he excels"
—Ruth Scurr, Times
"Where the literary careers of some of his contemporaries now look like gaudy wreckage, he has triumphantly developed into a writer of outstanding subtlety and substance. ..Written with superb exactness, complex, suspenseful, reflective and humane, this novel about an expert on the human brain by an expert on the human mind reinforces his status as the supreme novelist of his generation."
—Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
"It's the good writing and the truthful and convincing way of rendering consciousness that makes Ian McEwan's Saturday so engrossing, keeping me awake like a mystery thriller."
—Colm Toibin chose Saturday as one his books in A Little Night Reading, in The Sunday Times
"Refreshing and engrossing, Saturday has a pleasing intimacy... McEwan's superb novel amply demonstrates how good fiction, by dramatising unweildy and fraught ideas in a deeply personal narrative, can fashion the world into gobbets sometimes more digestible than factual reportage"
—James Urquhart, Independent
"His gift of observation, wonderfully precise, now comes thick and fast. There is nothing in this novel that feels forced. The author's mature attention illuminates equally everything it falls on....this [is a] profound and urgent novel."
—Tim Adams, Observer
"In Saturday he is at his best — thoughtful, eloquent, yet restrained. The novel has all the technical assurance of its predecessors, and suggests as well as a newly political sensibility and a seductive, Joycean attention to the textures of normality."
—Henry Hitchings, FT
"Saturday is a brilliant novel about post 9/11 Britain, about the fragility of middle-class liberal values and assumptions, and the escalating vulnerability of our small, democratic island. It is McEwan writing on absolute top form."
"An exemplary novel, engrossing and sustained. It is undoubtedly McEwan's best."
—Anita Brookner, Spectator
Praise for Atonement:
“Atonement is a deliriously great read, but more than that it is a great book.”
—Zsuszi Gartner, The Globe and Mail
“A book that shocks one into remembering just how high one’s literary standards should be… A tour-de-force by one of England’s best novelists.”
—Noah Richler, National Post
“A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama.”
—The New Yorker
“Atonement is a tremendous achievement, a rich demonstration of McEwan’s gifts as a storyteller.”
—The Vancouver Sun
From the Hardcover edition.