Understanding Ian McEwanBy David Malcolm
This is a discussion of the work of one of Britain's most highly regarded novelists and the winner of the 1998 Booker Prize. David Malcolm places Ian McEwan's work in the context of British literature's particular dynamism in the last decades of the 20th century. He also examines McEwan's relationship to feminism, concern with rationalism and science, use of moral perspective, and proclivity toward fragmentation. Malcolm offers close readings of McEwan's early short stories, which he recognizes as traditional and conservative in technique despite their shocking subject matter, and all of McEwan's novels. Employing the third novel, "The Child in Time", as the fulcrum for his discussion, Malcolm explores the themes of incest, espionage, moral self-flagellation, sexual fixation, political dysfunction, and personal antipathy evident in the other fiction. He illuminates the continuities obscured by the conventional approach to McEwan's fiction and raises the question whether McEwan is a novelist of brilliant fragments or of overall coherence.