Why I’m Done with Ian McEwan. And Why You Should be too.

by , under Arts, News, Politics

Justice or plaudits?

I’m perfectly sure he won’t give a crap, but I’m certain I’ll feel better for it – I’m done with Ian McEwan. He’s a gifted writer, no mistake about that, and I’ve genuinely enjoyed some of his books.

But then Saturday was just…too knowing. Too aware of its own cleverness. A bit showy. But whatever, it didn’t hurt anyone. Then there was a recent interview, in which he spat “my writing life has been one long uphill struggle to persuade the world that I didn’t do a creative writing course”. Which was bloody arrogant, and rather chippy, but then, what writer isn’t plagued with doubts about their talent, and where it comes from.

But today I read that he has agreed to accept the Jerusalem prize:

The Jerusalem prize, which carries a “symbolic” cash award of $10,000, is awarded biennially to writers whose work deals with themes of individual freedom in society.

Quite how he feels it is acceptable to take an award in Israel when it is systematically denying individual freedoms not only to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, but Israeli-Arabs living in Jerusalem itself, I have no idea. But I do know I find it distasteful, self-important and utterly lacking any empathy with those who are suffering.

So piss off McEwan, the £12.99 you might have got from me every couple of years with your new books won’t hurt you I’m sure. But I’ll be spared any more of your too-clever-by-half-yet-still-grossly-misogynistic characters, and the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign will be a little better off too. Goodbye.


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  1. Katherine

    Isn’t it funny how Ian McEwan seems to elicit this kind of response from people? I had a similar ‘no more’ moment – which I’ve never done with another author – after taking a sudden and violent dislike to a couple of his books and then watching a thoroughly unpleasant adaptation of one of his short stories. It’s like his writing is clockwork: incredibly precise and skilful, but utterly lacking any kind of heart or empathy.

    Re the UEA thing: I kind of get his point. The course then wasn’t really a course, certainly not in the way it is now, but the world being what it is UEA will always keep his name central to their marketing.

  2. KB

    Tweeted about this, but yes, worth pointing out here – well done to him for making the speech. The extent to which he did so in response to comment about his acceptance we’ll never know, but I’m glad he used his platform well nonetheless!