Reviewed by Michele Heather Pollock
Ian McEwan, the Booker prize-winning author of Amsterdam, delivers a quiet contemplation of post-9/11 London life in his ninth novel, Saturday.
Henry Perowne, a successful neurosurgeon with a happy family life, mysteriously awakens in the early hours of a Saturday morning. The sight of a burning plane making an emergency landing at London's Heathrow airport, seen through his bedroom window, launches Henry into a deep reflection on the state of the modern world and commences a long, and anything but ordinary day.
The day is filled with poetry and music, but also a minor car accident that results in a run-in with Baxter, a petty criminal. Henry recognizes the early signs of a fatal neurological disorder in Baxter, and the impulsive decisions Henry makes while confronting Baxter put Henry on an inexorable path toward a violent confrontation later in the day. Henry is forced to confront his feelings about family, bravery and, after extraordinary actions by himself and his son, about his own responsibility and compassion.
Saturday proves again why Ian McEwan is considered one of the most emotionally and psychologically powerful writers working today. His prose is elegant and perceptive, and although the book is a quiet one in many ways, the story is compelling, and a desire to witness how the smallest moments sometimes make the largest changes in an ordinary life will keep the reader turning the pages.
Armchair Interviews agrees that Saturday is a beautiful read.