#14: Atonement by Ian McEwan

September 22, 2009 | 2 books mentioned 1

coverMonths before Ian McEwan’s Atonement was published in the U.S., the galley was being passed from bookseller to bookseller at Book Soup, where I worked at the time. My usually jaded coworkers were effusive, and by the time they had passed the book on to me, my interest was piqued.

Atonement introduced me to McEwan, one of the leading literary lights of the last 25 years, a prolific and sometimes controversial novelist. It proved to be quite an introduction. Atonement is told in three parts, nestling the mannered charms of an English country house up against an arresting tale of Britain at war, and it has an ending that turns an admittedly accomplished but conventional novel into a gut-punch of a book that toys with the idea of the reliable narrator and gets one thinking about the ethics of story-telling and the power that a writer has to bend history to his will.

McEwan was a Booker winner in 1998 for Amsterdam, but it was Atonement that cemented him as that rare thing, the literary superstar.

Read an Excerpt from Atonement.
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created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

One comment:

  1. For my 40th birthday, I threw a party and asked everyone to bring a book that meant a lot to them and I gave everyone Atonement. I think about this book over and over as I watch the headlines and peoples behavior and wonder if people even consider atoning for their actions and if so, what is proper atonement. I also think the middle section is incredible writing. Great choice!

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