Every now and then a new name shines in the arts world. In the movie industry, theatre, visual arts, music: each field holds a talent on the spotlight. The same applies to Literature, and one of the most celebrated authors nowadays is British novelist and screenwriter Ian McEwan.
Born in England in 1948, McEwan began his career writing short, dark stories, which earned him the nickname of “Ian Macabre”. In the 1990s, he sort of changed that style and wrote a number of highly acclaimed novels that would bring him some of the most important prizes and awards.
One of those first appreciated works is Enduring Love (1997, “Amor Para Sempre” or “Amor Eterno” in Portuguese-translated editions), which tells the story of two strangers who become dangerously entangled after witnessing a hot air balloon incident in a sunny afternoon. The book was later adapted into a movie of the same name and received good reviews.
His most honoured novel is, perhaps, Atonement (2001, “Reparação” in Portuguese). On the hottest day of the summer of 1935 in the English countryside, Briony – a dreaming, creative young girl aspiring to become a writer – makes a terrible mistake when she thinks her older sister is attacked by the family’s housekeeper’s son. She doesn’t know that Cecilia, her sister, and Robbie, the young man, are actually about to begin a romantic relationship. Her version of the incident added to a series of events lead to Robbie’s arresting by the police and soon after that he is sent to fight in World War II, tearing the couple apart. McEwan’s writing style is so vivid and accurate that you soon feel part of the scene and incredibly close to the characters. The plot then turns to a description of their lives and struggles during the war in the most riveting way. The third, final part brings a discussion on how literature can or cannot change facts and make up for things past. Atonement earned a praised and award winning movie adaptation in 2007 (“Desejo e Reparação”, directed by Joe Wright).
Other works by McEwan include Amsterdam (1998, “Amsterdam”), which won the Man Booker Prize, Saturday (2006, “Sábado”) and On Chesil Beach (2007, “Na Praia”), easily found in Brazilian bookstores. His latest novel, Solar, was released in 2011 in Brazil and has received great reviews as well. He is expected at this year’s FLIP in Paraty and his talk is certainly one of the festival’s most anticipated.
If you’re looking for high quality reading and great language and vocabulary practice, Ian McEwan’s books are guaranteed to be an extremely enjoyable experience.