Over the past year, novelist Ian McEwan (Atonement, Enduring Love) has dropped several tantalizing tidbits about his work-in-progress, an 11th novel—his first since 2007’s On Chesil Beach. It’s about global warming. It features a physicist whom McEwan has described as “an intellectual thief. He’s sexually predatory. He’s a compulsive eater, a round and tubby fellow who has profound self-belief.” It’s not a comedy—but has “extended comic stretches.” And just yesterday he revealed a title, Solar, in a long interview with the Eastern Daily Press.
Where’s the controversy, you ask? In the new novel, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist suggests that “men outnumber women at the top of his profession because of inherent differences in their brains, rather than any gender discrimination,” according to The Guardian.
This plotline revelation has made major headlines since McEwan himself has faced criticism for giving his opinion on such things as radical Islam and Christianity. (Everyone loves an autobiographical angle!) The twist here is that after transforming himself into something of a media scapegoat, Beard makes a discovery that might help save the planet—if only anyone would listen to him. As McEwan explained to the New Yorker in February, “It isn’t angels necessarily who are going to save us.”
Doubleday, McEwan’s publisher in the U.S., hasn’t announced a release date for the novel yet, and it’s unlikely to appear before next year. Between now and then, we can probably expect a few more of those revelations . . .