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Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind, and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. As he looks out at the night sky, he is troubled by the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat.

Later, as Perowne makes his way through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors, a minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. But it is not until Baxter makes a sudden appearance as the Perowne family gathers for a reunion, that Henry's fears seem about to be realised.

289 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2005

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About the author

Ian McEwan

152 books15.3k followers
Ian McEwan studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970 and later received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany's Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. His novel Atonement received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006, he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader's Digest Author of the Year.

McEwan lives in London.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,326 reviews
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews875 followers
August 5, 2011
Hello everybody,
I'm Henry Perowne and welcome to a day in my life... a Saturday to be precise. I'm a good natured sort of chap, if I were famous I'd probably be saddled with the tag of "thinking women's crumpet", but personally I take myself much to seriously to acknowledge that kind of thing. I'm a successful neurosurgeon who enjoys long, descriptive and adjective laden games of squash with my erudite and debonair colleagues. Today, for once in my incredibly lucky and wealthy life, I had a spot of bad luck and pranged my top of the range Merc. This led to an encounter which can, at best, be described as unpleasant. The thugs in the red BMW gave me a bit of a pasting which left me with a cracking haematoma over my sternum. However, my extensive medical knowledge allowed me to diagnose one of my attackers with a genetically inherited degenerative disease on the spot. This allowed me to escape, quick-smart, while they brooded over their own mortality.

Later, after welcoming home my improbably talented and successful 16 year old Blues Musician son and my improbably talented and successful published poet daughter there was another small altercation. This time however the ebb and flow of violent modern day life breached the walls of this englishman's pricey Georgian Castle and things took a turn for the worse.

Needless to say, my calculating surgeons mind and spirited, courageous family pulled together to best the simian-like thugs. Ironically it then fell to me to save said thug with an emergency neurosurgical procedure. Life's funny that way. I wrapped up the whole day the way it began; by making love to my improbably talented and successful wife and then having a little bit of a wistful ponder about my own mortality while considering it in perspective against a backdrop of modern foreign policy.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
December 7, 2021
(Book 2 from 1001 books) - Saturday, Ian McEwan

The book, published in February 2005 by Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom and in April in the United States, was critically and commercially successful. Critics noted McEwan's elegant prose, careful dissection of daily life, and interwoven themes. It won the 2005 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. It has been translated into eight languages.

Saturday (2005) is a novel by Ian McEwan set in Fitzrovia, London, on Saturday, 15 February 2003, as a large demonstration is taking place against the United States' 2003 invasion of Iraq. The protagonist, Henry Perowne, a 48-year-old neurosurgeon, has planned a series of chores and pleasures culminating in a family dinner in the evening.

As he goes about his day, he ponders the meaning of the protest and the problems that inspired it; however, the day is disrupted by an encounter with a violent, troubled man. To understand his character's world-view, McEwan spent time with a neurosurgeon.

The novel explores one's engagement with the modern world and the meaning of existence in it. The main character, though outwardly successful, still struggles to understand meaning in his life, exploring personal satisfaction in the post-modern, developed world. Though intelligent and well read, Perowne feels he has little influence over political events.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه دسامبر سال2010میلادی

عنوان: شنبه؛ نویسنده: ایان (یان) مک ایوان (مک یوون)؛ مترجم: مصطفی مفیدی؛ تهران، نشر نیلوفر؛ سال1395؛ در374ص؛ شابک9789644486579؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده21م

نسخه انگلیسی کتاب را خواندم، داستانی در باره یورش «امریکا» به کشور «عراق» در سال2003میلادی است

کتاب شنبه، رمانی استادانه است، که داستانش در یکروز از ماه فوریه ی سال2003میلادی، رخ میدهد؛ «هنری پرون»، مردی خوشبخت است؛ یک جراح مغز و اعصاب موفق، که رابطه ی بسیار خوبی، با همسر، و فرزندانش دارد؛ «هنری»، از روز تعطیل خود در خانه ی بزرگش، در مرکز «لندن» لذت میبرد، و همان آرامشی را تجربه میکند، که در اتاق عمل بیمارستانها، هماره با او همراهست؛ گرچه جهان خارج از بیمارستان، خیلی آرام، و قابل پیش بینی نیست؛ جنگ با «عراق»، در پیش بوده، و از زمان حملات به «نیویورک»، و «واشنگتن»، در دو سال پیش، ناامیدی و بدبینی گسترده ای، جامعه را فراگرفته است؛ زندگی «پرون» در صبح همین شنبه ی ویژه، دگرگون و غیرعادی میشود؛ او در بامداد، پس از دیدن چیزی باور نکردنی در آسمان، به همراه همکارش، به بازی «اسکواش» روزانه ی خویش میرود، و تلاش میکند، تا از صدها هزار تظاهر کننده ی معترض به جنگ، دوری کند؛ رخدادی کوچک برای ماشین، او را وادار به رودررویی، با خلافکاری خرده پا، میکند؛ تشخیص پزشکی «پرون»، اینست که خلافکار از مشکلاتی ژرف، و پیچیده رنج میبرد، اما خلافکار باور دارد، که «پرون» او را کوچک شمرده، و همین، باعث به وجود آمدن پیامدهای باورنکردنی و خشونت آمیز میشود؛ «پرون»، در روزی که همانند هیچ کدام از روزهای پیشین عمرش نیست، باید برای زنده نگاه داشتن خانواده اش، همه ی مهارتهای خویش را به کار گیرد؛ و ...؛

نقل از متن: (وقتی هیچ عواقبی در کار نباشد، اشتباه کردن فقط یک انحراف کوچک است)؛

نقل از متن(مزیت خواب و بیدار بودن، کاوشی ایمن در حواشی ذهن است)؛

نقل از متن: (او دید که هیچ کس واقعا صاحب چیزی نیست؛ همه چیز، اجاره ای یا قرضی است؛ اموالمان بیشتر از ما زندگی میکنند و درنهایت، آنها را ترک خواهیم کرد)؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 16/12/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 15/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Fergus, Quondam Happy Face.
971 reviews17.6k followers
March 31, 2023
TWENTY YEARS ago today it all happened, folks...

Some books just hit you with the full blunt anarchical force of a powerful nightmare.

Or like 9/11 itself!

This out-of-the-way novel by the incredible British writer Ian McEwan represented what was for me - in the years following upon the annihilation of all my delicate presuppositions on that cataclysmic but classically Indian-Summer day in 2001 - a savage indictment of my standard middle-class mores.

For 9/11 was exactly the same thing for Dr. Henry Perowne.

And four years after that landmark day, I was rather grimly trying to pick up the pieces of my burnt-out life...

That springtime following my long-ago retirement had been seared with sciatic pain. What’s a guy to do? Well, it was textbook elementary: I had to exercise!

So one promisingly benign April day in 2005 I toted a large cloth shopping bag the mile or so it took to get me to our neighbourhood library. When I got there, I saw recent literary bestsellers that had been donated by readers, lined up in a prominent eye-level rack - going for pennies.

That day I forgot about using my library card.

Why bother?

I was flush with cash from my retirement severance pay, so I stuffed my bulging bag with some pretty big books.

This was, very prominently to my eye, one of the best of ‘em.

You see, 9/11 took a large slice out of my well-being, as I’m sure it did for many of you. And this book was about its aftermath for a London doctor.

I opened the book immediately, and was at once transfixed by its atmospheric tale of brooding insomnia in this wealthy surgeon’s soon-to-be-transmogrified ordinary life. The suspense is so well transmitted by McEwan you can cut it with a knife.

And yes, Dr. Henry Perowne is threatened by the same imminent, outrageous and horrifically total collapse as those two Manhattan towers suffered that seemingly insouciant far-away day.

Alas, dear Henry, your entire ethereal House of Card will collapse in rubble this Saturday, dragging behind you all your most cherished dreams of ethical demeanour.

For this Saturday you have an appointment with your destiny.

And your destiny is le Néant - Nothingness - the salaciously leering Face of your own Death and Destruction!

Sure, you will stitch together the crumbled pieces with your practical surgical skill.

You will ride out the tsunami, perched upon your Surfboard of Sheer, Expert Resilience.

But your little piece of polymer stands no chance again the Titanic Aftershock of this weekend upon your soul.

And, so yes, Mr. McEwan, you who at the end have pasted Humpty’s (Perowne’s) cracked shell back together...

It won’t solve the problem.

For the Yolk of Humpty’s Soul has all spilled out upon the drab grey London pavement and you can’t do a THING about it.

Unless Perowne has built up far greater reserves of self-possession than the rest of us mortals manage to do. And if that’s the case, he is superhuman. Or NONhuman.

A neat device, but unfortunately this novel is the portrayal of a personal cataclysm that ONLY HAPPENS ON THE OUTSIDE OF A MAN’S INNER SELF.

Highly unlikely.

Your novel is beautifully contrived, but ingenuity has never saved a soul.

No. If Dr. Henry Perowne were REAL, he would never be perfectly HIMSELF again.
Profile Image for Lobstergirl.
1,715 reviews1,242 followers
January 27, 2009

"Saturday" was ponderous, labored, rhetorically thick and therefore perhaps to my mind pretentious, or do I mean pompous? It was like a big bloated beer gut, but a beer gut bloated - indeed, rendered distended, turgid, and tumescent - by the finest chardonnays, Gewurztraminers, and Sauvignon Blancs, sipped (quaffed?) while listening to Bach Partitas. It was bereft of conciseness, brevity, midgetude, terseness, laconism, abbreviation, and pith, its rather meaningless, hollow sentences curled around each other like vines choking a tree trunk, maybe a turkey oak. Paragraphs wended, labyrinthinely, toward a ridiculous and pat conclusion. Even when things happened, they were narrated along with the protagonist's meandering thoughts - and by thoughts, I mean those electrical impulses traveling from synapse to synapse between the neurons and glial cells in the nodes of the brain - as he moved through that last day of the week, also known as Saturday. This is how I would describe the book if I were writing in the style of, say, Ian McEwan.
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
593 reviews559 followers
July 4, 2020

Jonathan sits before his reliable laptop, gathering his thoughts on how to begin a review of Ian McEwan's Saturday. He has already made up his mind as to how he shall write this review, a mediocre attempt at emulating Mr McEwan's third-person, present-tense style, will suffice. Yet he struggles with the concept of how best to begin the review. Shall he mention the plot, the themes or the beautiful writing? He knows at this point that he will refer to why he talks as an omniscient narrator for this review yet he lacks words and ideas to allow him to begin. His fingers hover over the keyboard, waiting for inspiration in order to begin a review different from others previously attempted.

It comes to him now, he will open with a tale of how he came to be reading Saturday. He smiles wryly, the smile sliding to the very corners of his mouth. He certainly had never planned to read the novel. He had not set a reservation for the novel nor had he picked up from the shelf Saturday with the intention of reading it. He had believed the plain covered book to be a version of Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters, compulsory reading for his literature course. It seems to him now so ironic that he could have grabbed Saturday without realising that it was not a poetry collection, although it talks enough about that subject. Jonathan remembers back as to how he decided, upon realising his mistake, to read the novel. He had always intended to read some of Ian McEwan's work, Atonement being a particular novel he had considered, and the fact that the book was on the 1001 books-to-read-before-you-die list (now 1200+ books) convinced him he should actually read it.

And so he had read the book and he had found it entertaining. The prose, he considers, had been particularly beautiful in its simplicity. Though there had been far too many medical terms dished out by the author as unconstrained information. "Here", McEwan had said, "have 'neurologist', 'aneurysm', 'dopamine' and 'biopsy' to keep you company, I don't care whether you understand or care about such terms." Jonathan certainly did understand those terms, yet he wonders whether the way they were flung about would detract other thoughtful readers. Then there was also the matter as to whether other readers would care enough about a novel set on one single day. Would readers want to know about one man's solitary day left separated from the context of a single lifetime? Would other readers care enough about the prose and the entertaining aspects of the novel - would they care about neurosurgeon Henry Perowne and his family, his squash game, his home invasion?

Then, Jonathan questions, would they notice the themes of the novel? The ideas about how languages connect people. The suggestion that poetry could shape the lives about others and as an afterthought the connection between language and music through poetry. Would they see an idea about how our past deeds may come back to haunt us and how it is therefore important to question and challenge what we are doing in the moment? And would they see the idea of how a single day may be both everything and nothing in an individual's lifetime?

Jonathan stares at his laptop and then begins to write. He writes until he has completed his review. He writes until his thoughts are spread out before him like blood pouring from a wound. He looks then at what he has written and asks himself one more question. Have I informed everyone enough about what I think about this novel - that I like it and yet do not consider it a masterpiece - in order to make others consider at least reading this? He pauses for a moment, then he lets out a sigh. He has written a decent review he considers, let potential readers make the decision as to whether they will read this literary text. He scans his work once more and then directs his cursor to the single 'save' button.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,302 followers
April 27, 2023
3, 5*.

În mare, autorul povestește minuțios o zi din viața unui neurochirurg, Henry Perowne, o zi de sîmbătă, 15 februarie 2003. Nu contează ce face Henry și, oricum, mai mult vorbește cu sine decît face, ca Leopold Bloom din Ulysses. Perowne este un ins rațional, practic, și cu o profesională neîncredere față de imaginație, de ficțiune, de reverii. Toate sînt fleacuri. El e om serios.

Romanele nu-i spun mare lucru. A citit Doamna Bovary și Anna Karenina și a înțeles că adulterul era o practică obișnuită și cu un secol și jumătate în urmă. Poezia nu-l atrage. Arta îl lasă mai degrabă nedumirit. A fost odată la o expoziție de pictură (îndemnat de soția lui, Rosalind) și a conversat cu primul ministru din vremea aia, Tony Blair. Firește, primul ministru l-a confundat cu un pictor, i-a lăudat opera cu pricepere de expert și a urmat un dialog absurd, de un umor total.

În chip neașteptat și în pofida părerilor doctorului Perowne, tocmai poezia - forța ei de îmblînzire a sufletului și minților - îi va salva familia. În cartea lui Ian McEwan, un rol decisiv îl joacă poemul Dover Beach de Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888). Ca să aflați în ce chip, citiți romanul...

Un fragment din numitul poem:

„Doar dinspre franjul spumei unde marea
Atinge malul argintat de lună
Se-aude hîrşîitul ce îl face
Pietrişul smuls de valuri şi din nou
Zvîrlit pe ţărm, un veşnic du-te-vino
În ritm încet şi larg ce sugerează
Pe ţărmul egean, Sofocle
– Sînt mii de ani de-atunci – l-a ascultat
Şi s-a gîndit la fluxul şi refluxul
Mizeriei umane...”
(traducere de Leon Levițchi sub titlul Faleza Dover-ului).

Bref: romanul lui Ian McEwan mi-a plăcut. Nu veți greși dacă o să-l cumpărați. Face toți banii și nici nu costă prea mult. Cineva m-a sfătuit să nu-l citesc: romanul ar fi lipsit de acțiune și, în ultima parte, de-a dreptul neverosimil. Nu-i deloc așa. Și, în plus, mie tocmai partea neverosimilă mi-a plăcut...

P. S. Într-o vreme de epidemie, romanul lui McEwan trebuie așezat în categoria cărților despre doctori. Aș face adaos faptul că acțiunea romanului se petrece de-a lungul unei (singure) zile, precum în Ulysses de James Joyce sau Doamna Dalloway de Virginia Woolf. Pentru a nu mai aminti O zi mai lungă decît veacul de Cinghiz Aitmatov.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,562 reviews859 followers
October 21, 2021
Living the dream in modern urban London is our man, and protagonist, as a neurosurgeon, happily married, with grown up good kids, with great friends, living his fine and more or less contented satisfying upper middle class existence. Ian McEwan stretches this day out in mostly long descriptive paragraphs on the minutiae of the protagonist's life, of his existence, of his inner thoughts, maybe as a nod to how we in the so-called Developed World think and focus our lives on our selves, our family, friends and career? On this day there is the momentous anti-war march, in London like everywhere else, the newsfeeds are being watched and monitored like never before with the ongoing growth of digital media, and on this Saturday our neurosurgeon has interactions with a number of different people throughout his day, and each impacts on his behaviour, on his thoughts and sometimes on how he sees himself.

The book also kind of maps how modern over-arching political issues like the Iraq War debate and real issues like petty crime can so easily usurp the balance we have created in our modern lives. There is a pretty interesting and surprisingly intense story throughout the book, that truly tests the world our protagonist has built around himself and his family. It would be easy to dismiss this as elitist or narrow, but for me it has a wider scope, it could be about any of us, it's about all people, about how we all spend most of our lives trying to live the way we want, how we want as much as we can, and how the external environment is always out there, almost fighting us daily whether it be via aging, time, climate, politics, health or that thing that is the worse of all.... other people! 7 out of 12.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,196 reviews9,474 followers
September 19, 2012
*******Note : SPOILERS ALL OVER THE PLACE!! This review is for people who have read Saturday or people who will never read Saturday!********

Reading Saturday is like running a weird obstacle race. At first it’s all manicured lawns and rhododendrons, and then it’s hideous piles of donkey droppings, and that’s how it goes – daffodils, donkey droppings, vistas of beauty, donkey droppings. And I’m not sure that was the intended effect. What a weird novel – here we have one of the stupidest plot devices for many years, followed immediately by one of the soapiest; and we also have an excruciatingly badly written cardboard villain; we have some fantastically overwritten passages which could make you lose your lunch if you’re sensitive to pretension; and yet, I liked it. I thought it couldn’t have tried more to do something which is worth doing, which is, to pick up the chaotic bundles of stuff left around by the journalists* and try to connect them together, and in the middle of the madness of the early 21st century, our madness, to make some kind of sense of some of the lives that can be lived in its midst.


1) Okay, there’s a home invasion, like in Clockwork Orange or Death Wish or Funny Games. McEwan’s villain is called Baxter and he’s the standard twitching psycho. He has Huntingdon’s Chorea, the thing that killed Woody Guthrie. He’s got SYMBOL stamped all over his cardboard simian features. He represents THE LOWER ORDERS who in turn represent ANARCHY AND VIOLENCE. The beautiful upper middle class Perowne family represent ORDER, KNOWLEDGE and THE ARTS. So Baxter has ordered the pretty 23 year old daughter to disrobe. But then he notices a book on the coffee table. What’s that? It’s a poetry book I wrote, she says. So the psycho villain then asks her to read something out of it. She then quotes Dover Beach from memory and he has an epiphany, he howls “Oh that’s so beautiful!”, all thoughts of rape flee from his mind. Now really

a) Either Ian McEwan thinks that could actually happen in which case he’s very silly, or

b) He thinks US READERS would think that could really happen, in which case he thinks WE’RE really silly

2) Then, the father and the son overwhelm the intruder and hurl him down the antique stairs, so he receives a brain injury. In true medical soap tradition (British readers will be thinking of HOLBY CITY here), the father who hurled becomes the doctor who will save; yes, he dashes to the operating room to perform the delicate operation only he could do to save this wretch’s life. How morally superior can you possibly get? Well, this second slice of soapy pie was finessed pretty well in the end by our author, because, as he explains, “By saving his life in the operating theatre, Henry also committed Baxter to his torture” (from his terrible degenerative disease). That may be so, but it don't make this situation any less sudsy.


Readers have been repulsed by McEwan’s fulsome descriptions of the totally perfect Perowne family, the lovely lawyer wife, the lovely poet daughter, the lovely guitar prodigy son, the lovely brain surgeon dad, and the lovely family donkey (I made the last one up, there is no Perowne family donkey, but if there was, you may be sure it would be the only donkey with a PhD in Egyptology from Balliol College, Oxford). But I don’t think all this gush is to be taken at face value at all. I think it’s a kind of loathe letter to the British upper middle class, the people who have got it all, and whose lives are really quite like this. (For an American equivalent, see The Privileges by Jonathan Dee). This is a book about class (and other things), and about the difficult, inconvenient truth (in McEwan’s eyes, maybe) that the upper classes are necessary, however revolting their ineffable perfectness may be. As an instance of how I think we’re supposed to read this stuff, the son Theo has a guitar talent & so because of some string-pulling and connections, he gets to “jam” with some “blues greats” like Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton. Yes, I reached for the sick bag during this passage too, but I believe McEwan wants us to.

I loved all the neurosurgery stuff, which some readers found boring. Au contraire, I thought it was Ballardian, beautiful and convincing.
I liked McEwan’s efforts in trying to make us see the macro in the micro – the greater political event of the looming invasion of Iraq is set off with the personal event of the home invasion; the determinism which Perowne sees will cause the Iraq invasion can be also seen in the descriptions of Baxter’s inevitable fate. I liked the 18 page description of a game of squash and thought this was a crafty homage to Don DeLillo’s Underworld. I liked that McEwan is almost the exact British equivalent of Jonathan Franzen – yes, McEwan’s novels are short affairs and a re produced regularly, but both writers are writing about NOW, THIS VERY MINUTE, and all of our compromised, mortgaged squishy-squashy middleclass lives.

In three words : a heroic failure.

* First come the journalists with their long lenses and rough drafts – they’re fast, they often work in packs and they don’t look back. They leave the crossing of the t’s and the dotting of the I’s to others. Then walking behind the journalists come lonelier figures, the historians and the novelists.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,296 reviews120k followers
November 7, 2019
Henry Perowne is a busy 48-year-old London neurosurgeon. Saturday, in 2003, two years after the 9/11 attacks and as the invasion of Iraq ears, is a single day in his life. We peek in at every thought that crosses this fellow’s mind over the course and react with him to the events that occur, such as seeing a flaming plane cross the London sky, getting mugged by a trio of toughs, losing a squash match to his buddy.

Ian McEwan - from his site - Photo Credit: Annalena McAfee

Saturday is no one’s notion of an action yarn, and I found myself pining for something more to occur, something to take us out of this guy’s skull. But I guess remaining inside it is the point. Later, the toughs invade his home, force his daughter to strip. Not hard to see a 9/11 reference in this. He tries to think through a plan, manages to distract the main antagonist and gains some time until other hands jump in. Later he is faced with a choice about whether or not to help the crook (Baxter). How does one handle oneself under stress; the stresses of modern life; the range of considerations in making moral choices, seeing one’s children growing up and becoming their own people? Contemporary life in the head of an intelligent, thoughtful man. If not exactly thrilling, ultimately, I felt it was a smart, worthwhile read.

You can find out more about McEwan and his many other works at his site.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,086 reviews7,009 followers
October 22, 2022
[Revised 10/22/22. Pictures and shelves added, rating changed]

A day in the life of a London neurosurgeon in the mid-1990s. It starts out as a commonplace Saturday but it turns out far from that - drama and trauma invade the day. It begins with the good doctor spotting a plane with an engine on fire and this serves to introduce the theme of post-9-11 terrorism fears in London.


This particular Saturday is also the day when hundreds of thousands marched in London to protest the war against Iraq. It's also a special day because the doctor's Mercedes is side-swiped and he ends up in a street altercation with thugs.

The doctor's son is a blues guitarist and his daughter a poet, so the two serve as foils for the author's speculations about the roles of the arts and literature in modern life.

The neurosurgeon gives us a lot of his speculation on the neural operations of the brain, which is, in effect, genetic determinism. We read these speculations in the descriptions of the thug with body tics and during the doctor's visits to his senile mother. Still a good read.

It's a good book, well-written and well-thought-out - after all it's Ian McEwan, author of Atonement and recognized master of the English language. That said, it's tedious in parts. Since you are expanding a single day into prose, a squash game or an auto accident occupy pages and it drags a bit.

To be honest, as I revise this review, and since I've read many more novels by this author since I first wrote this review, this is probably my least-favorite McEwan. I dropped my rating from a 4 to a 3.


Top photo of London from the cloister.co.uk
The author (b. 1948) from theguardian.com

Profile Image for Maciek.
562 reviews3,320 followers
October 19, 2010
Short version: GOD IT WAS BORING.

Long version: You know the anecdote that a succesful novelist could publish his shopping list and people would buy it? That's the case with Saturday. A chronicle of 24 hours from the life of neurosurgeon Henry Perowne, the novel is full of his ruminations, reminiscences, all described in painful, tedious detail. McEwan fails to build an actual plot; instead you'll be sure to hear every single event, no matter how irrelevant and drawn out (there's an 18 page description of a squash game that's boring to death!). If you liked Remembrance of Things Past this book might appeal to you; Henry takes 60 pages to get out of the sheets.

The characters are all disgustingly one-dimensional; starting with Henry Perowne, the most gifted brain surgeon of his generation who plays squash and owns an awesome ride, mercedes of course; his wife, Rosalynd, the beautiful lawyer who seems to posess no negative attributes whatsoever; the hipster son, a handsome, talented blues musician; beautiful daughter who's a published poet; Henry's father who bears the incredibly pretentious surname of "Grammaticus" (he's a poet too, of course) and Henry's mom, an acclaimed swimmer (she's the most likable character in the book - maybe because she's suffering from dementia).

McEwan is not in any way gentle or subtle in presenting his own beliefs, and as he is an atheist then so is his hero. Henry doesn't believe in any supreme force, doesn't like writers who employ the supernatural, is bored with literature in general - much like the reader is bored with his ramblings. McEwan blandly uses his characters as mouthpieces, and the road to individual insight is forced and devoid of any nuance - he'll spend 20 pages describing a squatch game, then go onto his rant about science or the war in Iraq, then go and describe some mundane activities again, return to rants about cultural differences and religion, break it, rinse and repeat. It's clumsy, irritating and becomes unbearable pretty quick.
Did I mention hundreds of pages about neurosurgery? Well, maybe not hundreds - it feels more like thousands.

Why was it critically acclaimed you might ask? It's pretty simple. Saturday is exactly what one would expect to read in the so called Literary Novel - take in the one day setting and scream of consciousness from Wolf and Joyce, mix in the character study of James, complete with the dulness of Melville and voila! Your cocktail is ready and you will learn many new, exquisite things: war protesters often lack knowledge about war and are simply protesting, thugs and bullies are bad, science is cool and friends can occasionally be disappointing.
Compare it to mixing various alcohols - wine, vodka, beer and tequila undoubtedly all work well on their own, but when you mix them all you know what will come out of it?
Puke. That's a good description of Saturday - it's verbal puke.

There is nothing controversial, thought provoking or challenging in this novel. It even has a Hollywood ending: the good doctor proves to be a quiet, admirable hero who eventually perserveres (with a help of a gigantic deus ex machina), but is as realistic as James Bond in his old days. Bond was fun though; Saturday is not.

Saturday is genuine literature because there's absolutely nothing fun in it, nothing clever or in any way fresh. It is instead full of tedium, banal social commentary and uninteresting characters that don't posess a particle of humanity. There are no plot developments whatsoever (I would even argue about the existence of a plot in the first place). But it has long panderings about Iraq, science and most important of all - squash, so it must be "profound", "urgent" and "dazzling". Ideal Pulitzer material.

Profile Image for Fabian.
947 reviews1,563 followers
July 16, 2019
For me, one-star ratings are extremely rare.

& this is, without a doubt, one of the worst books... Ever! The titular day is a bland array of stupid events that fill up a stupid life. The neurosurgeon atop his manse contemplates the plague of humanity living right below him (commoners, proletarians, drug addicts) all the while believing that his own existence is worthwhile as he parades around all the perks of being rich in a modern-day luxurious London. I detested this neo-bourgeoisie panorama too too much to continue about what a drag it was for a midlife twit to tell me how fabulous his house and wife are, how complete and neat and great he has it, how his over-pampered kids are both prodigies, how there's a fear super far away from this narrative in the form of a potential post-911 mass annihilation. Everything in P.O.V. of Perowne has a sense of simplicity and he tackles the main problems of the narrative with a sense of superior knowledge & worse, literary entitlement. Asshole! (It is also very clear that this is a Mrs. Dalloway prototype, but unlike Woolf's single day in the life of... , this one is all pretension) I would hate to meet this man and I am sorry to say that this does not dispel the notion that all medical professionals are lame. I am also sorry to admit that for somebody who wrote arguably one of the best love epics ever, "Atonement" the phenomenal, Mr. McEwan should be ashamed of himself for this piece of utter trash.
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
February 11, 2020
My star rating of "Saturday" is a reminder of the days when I still liked his writing style enough to give him the benefit of my suppressed doubt.

I will let those stars remain shining here to remember what kind of strange magnetic power this author has to make me try, again and again, to discover the evasive genius that seems to be hiding just around the next sentence...

I do hold a personal grudge against one of the last scenes in "Saturday" though. I have never been able to fully forget the terrible "shame-by-proxy" that I felt when I was forced by my own imagination to identify with the vulnerable exposure of the naked pregnant young woman. And of course the shame is not towards the psychopath, but towards those with whom one should be feeling comfortable, caring and loving - the family, that is. Life is truly a strange mix of ordinary and extraordinary occurrences, and these Ian McEwan condensed nicely into one Saturday.

Happy Saturday out there, my dear fellow readers. I hope you had more of the ordinary stuff today, and lots of coffee and chocolate! And possibly an Ian McEwan book at hand as well, as he is for lazy days...
116 reviews40 followers
January 7, 2018
This wasn’t my favorite Ian McEwan. Admittedly there were very valid points in some of the negative reviews. But I’m partial regarding to McEwan--his mesmerizing prose, particularly his superb interpretation of music (e.g. jazz/blues in this book and modern classical in Amsterdam) woke up all my senses.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.7k followers
August 22, 2011
Warning: also contains major spoilers for Night Train

Many of the other reviewers say they're annoyed with Saturday on the grounds that the main character's life is too implausibly perfect - a successful neurosurgeon with a beautiful wife, two talented children, a lovely home, etc etc. He's even a pretty decent squash player. So how can Henry possibly fill the Everyman role he's apparently meant to inhabit?

Well, it seems to me that McEwan is making a sensible point here. Compared to most people in human history, and indeed to most people in the world today, your average educated Westerner (e.g. your average person who posts on Goodreads) is unbelievably privileged. Of course, most of us aren't quite as privileged as Henry, but, when you compare against the great mass of humanity, the difference is so small that it's close to technical. So, the natural question that arises is: how are we making use of our incredible good fortune?

It occurred to me that Saturday is in some ways a mirror-image of Martin Amis's Night Train, another novel that people often slam. In the Amis book, we also have an extraordinarily fortunate character. Jennifier is young, beautiful, greatly loved and, on top of everything else, a cutting-edge research astrophysicist. (Amis is a big fan of astrophysics). And what does she do with all of this amazing luck? At the end, it turns out that she's killed herself for no reason at all! Given Amis's general preoccupation with our society's self-destructive trajectory, I think the intended message is clear. We are Jennifer: we could have a paradise if we were just the tiniest bit sensible, but instead we're destroying ourselves and the whole world for no reason.

In Saturday, I felt that the set-up was basically the same, but the final message was positive. Some parts of the story are indeed implausible (you are unlikely to deter a psychotic rapist by reciting Dover Beach). All the same, I liked the ending, where, almost without thinking, Henry uses his surgeon's skills to save the life of the man who, a few hours ago, was trying to kill him. This is right; this is how one should show appreciation for the gifts that fortune has showered on us.

I know, I know. Moral parables are unfashionable at the moment, and elegant despair is the cool choice. I still thought McEwan was saying something worthwhile here.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Marigold.
716 reviews
April 29, 2008
I loved this book! This is not a book for you if you’re looking for entertainment only, or light reading. This is a book full of layers, metaphors, parallels, & issues to think about. The thing that most reached out & grabbed me was the idea of a man going about his daily life (whether you find his daily life mundane or overly privileged or whatever), when unexpected events occur & change everything. That’s always sort of a scary theme for me! On the surface it’s the story of Henry, a successful London neurosurgeon; his wife Rosalind, a lawyer; their daughter, a soon to be published poet living in Paris; & their son, a blues musician, also on the brink of success. It’s a story that takes place over the course of one day – Feb 15, 2003, a day just before the start of the Iraq war, when there were huge anti-war demonstrations in London & around the world. That morning, Henry wakes up in the early morning hours & goes to look out the window. He sees an airplane headed toward Heathrow airport, & it appears to be in trouble. This encounter with disaster & possible terrorism informs & affects the rest of Henry’s Saturday. On this day, he’s planned a series of ordinary activities – a game of squash with a coworker; groceries; dinner, etc. Unfortunately, a minor traffic accident interrupts his plans, & brings his life into collision with Baxter, a – what? – small-time crook? – McEwan never specifically tells us – but we know Baxter has some sidekicks who don’t hesitate to use violence. Henry sees that Baxter has neurological symptoms that he’s able to instantly diagnose as a debilitating & fatal genetic disease.
All of that is the surface story. Along the way, you get to learn about neurosurgery – fascinating! I thought the detail about this was really interesting, tho have seen a lot of criticism about its inclusion. Really? Roll with it, you might learn something! You get to learn about the game of squash, literature, poetry, genetic diseases, the aging process, music, & cooking – all parts of Henry’s day or his thinking about his day. You get to think about war & peace & terrorism & fear & politics - & how these huge issues affect all of us even as we cope with the details of our lives. (Maybe you don’t want to think about these things – in which case, don’t read this book!)
Themes to find: The need for control in our lives, what things we have control over, what we don’t, & what happens when unexpected events make us doubt our control. The fear of lack of control or losing control. Work – competitiveness – how it affects our relationships. Biological determinism – to what extent is our destiny controlled by our genes? Violence, war, & what forces are available to us to counteract violence. Seems like a lot of people were disturbed by Henry’s family being “too perfect.” Legitimate – but here’s a theme to look for – the four disciplines of medicine, law, literature & music - & how they stack up against forces of chaos & violence. There’s a whole idea to think about that has to do with Henry & how the different parts of his personality work for or against him in the particular struggle he faces on this Saturday – or do his children represent different parts of him? Or parts of a greater whole that he needs to integrate? And who is Baxter, really? Maybe he’s part of Henry too – in a sense (read the end!) – or part of that greater whole. What does his reaction to the poem that Daisy recites, mean to the story? Another theme – creativity - & what would it mean to a dying man, to have the ability to create something like a poem, that has a life of its own, & an ability to inspire particular feelings & longings in others? I could go on but this is much too long! I thought “Saturday” was FASCINATING.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,230 followers
April 2, 2015
I found this book: Saturday by Ian McEwan.

Then I read it.

Things happened, some exciting and some less so, nothing of super consequence.

I finished the book. I put it away and forgot about it.

I then went on to another book.

That's my reading experience and that's the arc of Saturday. It's a "day in the life of" short story dragged out into novel length. Granted there's plenty packed into that day and it's admirably juggled by McEwan.

The main character is accosted. He happens to be a doctor and that coincidentally is very helpful. His family is under siege. Oh what to do?! Whatever does happen, I assure you, it happens all within one day. Thus the title.

At first I couldn't pinpoint what about this that left me flat, but now I can. It feels pointless, like an exercise. I never felt engaged. So you had a rough day and things are weighing on your mind. Meh. I suppose it would make a good party story, but reading a full-length novel's worth of this anecdote dragged me down.
Profile Image for Helle.
376 reviews371 followers
December 23, 2015
There’s something mesmerizing about Ian McEwan’s writing which results in my having a peculiar kind of blind spot when it comes to his stories. No matter how ordinary they are; no matter how unremarkable they appear at first sight, or how construed they clearly are, I am helplessly drawn into the universe of his prose. There’s some kind of stylistic vortex that just sucks me in.

As in many of his novels, the plot hinges on one event, though in this novel it might be two: first, the protagonist, Henry Perowne, sees a burning airplane in the middle of the night – a symbol, apparently, of the post 9/11 world that we live in. Second, he has a chance encounter with a dubious character which sets off a chain of events, although on a meta-level, that event in itself is somehow connected with the first (though it’s not entirely clear to me how), as are subsequent events.

Henry Perowne is a neurosurgeon at a London hospital. He lives on a leafy street in Fitzrovia, the part of London that houses Bloomsbury, which is surely no coincidence. McEwan himself lived there until a few years ago, and so did Virginia Woolf. Henry’s Saturday – which includes the viewing of the plane, the incident with the stranger, a squash game which we hear about in great detail, a family dinner, an operation, the minutiae of which we are likewise treated to – is somehow reminiscent of (possibly inspired by?) Mrs. Dalloway. Mrs. D, too, stays within a few blocks of her own home as she meanders through the streets of London and records every little thing that she gazes at – all in just one day. She, too, is an upper-middle class Londoner, though Henry Perowne seems more satisfied with his lot in life than she does. His philosophizing meanderings, however, are as labyrinthine as hers but belong, of course, to a different era. (Another reviewer, though negative about the novel, has pointed out that McEwan’s character study seems inspired by Henry James, which is a good and plausible observation; McEwan’s influences, according to himself, include both Woolf and James. No doubt there are other references in the novel that I’ve failed to pick up on).

Few of McEwan’s novels are as earth-shattering as Atonement, my first and favourite of his novels, and on one level I wasn’t terribly interested in Henry Perowne’s perfect life and perfect family. And yet the novel has that certain je ne sais quoi that makes me stop and wonder about things both during and after the reading. Perhaps it is due to the way in which McEwan notices and portrays people and things in the world, the way in which he zooms in on and draws out little incidents in his near perfect prose. On the surface it is simply about a day in the life of Perowne, but it becomes emblematic of modern life (in the upper-middle classes) with its antagonists and protagonists, its small tragedies and heroic acts, its ugliness and its beauty, its fears and its hopes. I have to say, though, that especially the happier parts of these equations characterized Henry Perowne’s life. Unlike many reviewers in here, however, I didn’t have a problem with that; it was a slice of a life, and they come in all shapes and sizes.

Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
385 reviews326 followers
February 26, 2021
Oh dear this was a real struggle. To be fair, 2 stars is a little generous.

McEwan, spent so much time describing the minutiae of pretty much every scene. At first, I was absorbed but as I persisted throughout the book - it became wearing. A game of squash (yes squash) was described shot by shot over a half a dozen pages. Too much Ian!

This is McEwan (one of my favourites) at his tangential best. A tedious effort.

2 Stars
Profile Image for Betsy Robinson.
Author 9 books1,041 followers
November 26, 2019
This eighth book in my current Ian McEwan binge is the one I have now purchased just after reading a digital copy. (All the others have been library copies.) The reason being that not only is this story of one day in the life of a neurosurgeon so brilliant and moving that it reduced me to a sweaty puddle, but reading a single line of McEwan's narrative lights a fire in my writer brain. He reminds me about full-sensory life and how to express it—color, heat/cold, smell, etc.—evoking the words of his thirteen-year-old Atonement protagonist, Briony Tallis, who claims that she can describe anything; McEwan can, in such original language that it’s mesmerizing. Also, in my ongoing study of his narrative—and I’m definitely reading as a student—with this book I began to see the minute parts: how he uses literal movement (journeys, panoramic views, even travel from room to room of a house) to convey what would otherwise be stagnant inner thoughts and dialogue. I’d been wondering why what drives me to abandon books (excessive inner dialogue) has the opposite effect on me with McEwan’s work, and I think the secret is movement. He has figured out how to create so much of it that what would otherwise feel inert vibrates on the ride. And the rhythm of the literal movement in journey, punctuated by background or informative narrative is impeccable; it never drags; it's as if a metronome is marking the edges between the different uses of narratives and he never goes beyond a reader's organic attention span, and slowly, fearlessly he builds the book, escalating from narrative to heart-pounding pure action.

There are only a few writers’ books that inspire me this way. If I read one piece in The Stories of John Cheever , I’m fired up for whatever I’m working on. Same with a chapter of my thrice-read copy of John Williams’s Stoner . Percival Everett has recently joined this club, especially with his books I Am Not Sidney Poitier and Erasure . And, prior to finishing this book, my only question with McEwan was which of his literary symphonies to buy. Atonement , On Chesil Beach , and The Children Act are probably better plots, and Nutshell is a hilarious animal unlike any of his other literary offspring, but I've purchased Saturday for the inspiration impact of a single sentence or paragraph and its palpable pulsating humanity.

11/26/19 Update on reading a second time

It's still wonderful. However . . .

Because I knew what was coming later in the book, I made a special effort to visualize the minutely described house the neurosurgeon lives in; this is important information (and there is a reason for the detailed, almost transcendent fascination with life details, which you may or may not realize after you finish the book). During my first reading I was confused by the house layout.


Because I live in a brownstone apartment building in New York City. It is a walk-up and I live on the top floor. When you walk into my building, you are on the first floor, and you then must hike up four flights of stairs that everybody who has ever visited me has complained about, claiming I live in the stratosphere, and, after eying my dog and querying how many times a day I do this, responding "How on earth do you do this?" and "This must be the reason for your phenomenally good health but I could never in a million years live this way because the climb just about killed me."

But I am losing my point. My point is that there are five floors starting with the ground floor, which is also the first floor. Mr. McEwan calls the ground floor "the ground floor" where the front door to the neurosurgeon's house is, and subsequently there is a set of down stairs to a kitchen and maybe a library although I may have misplaced that (I really should draw this) and perhaps I'm wrong and the library is upstairs . . . which brings me to the first flight up (which, if the kitchen is downstairs, is actually the second flight) to what all sane people would call the second floor. But in this book it is sometimes is called the first floor. Followed by a floor, which by Mr. McE's logic would be the second floor, but is in fact the third floor where the master bedroom is. Or maybe the master is on the second floor, wherever that is, and the son's bedroom is on the real third floor.

As you can see, I am still confused about the architecture of the damned house. Suffice it to say the house has three floors . . . or maybe more, including the kitchen, which is finally identified on page 153 as the "basement kitchen!" In short, I really think there should be an architectural rendering included.

But now to the really important stuff: On a second reading, I'm even more moved by the perfection of having a neurosurgeon—who throughout the book makes seemingly random yet transcendent observations about why we humans do what we do and believe what we choose—live a whole-life human drama, complete with numinous glimpses of a Bigger Reality, in one day. (The post-9/11 pre-Iraq war tumultuous political environment makes this a timely book for the chaos and upset of right now.) And finally, I was truly devastated this time around, deeply understanding McEwan's point—that our only purpose is love as we struggle "here as on a darkling plain / Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night." ("Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold, which is so well used in this magnificent book.)

Spoiler question to others who have read this book:
Profile Image for Lori.
1,454 reviews55.8k followers
September 13, 2007
Ok. I usually force myself to finish each novel I start. (with the two exceptions so far being Catch 22 and Atlas Shrugged).. I do this (1) to at least get my moneys worth, and (2) because I know somewhere in there, there must be a part worth waiting for.

This book fell into the (2) catagory. It was an impossible bore throughout most of the novel, with one interesting fight in an alley due to a fender bender.... until you hit the last 50 pages. For me, hitting those last chapters was like breaking the surface of the water after holding your breath for an uncomfortably long time, and getting that first great gasp of cool, refreshing, life-continuing air!!!!

I would really not recommend this book to anyone who isnt willing to be bored to sleep whilst reading. (Which happened to me quite often). I can read a book in a matter of days, this one was dragged out for almost 2 weeks. I just couldnt stay awake long enough to complete it.... (Yawn)!
Profile Image for Tina.
512 reviews796 followers
December 12, 2012
I have read Ian McEwan before and I know he is known for his beautiful prose but I could just not get into this book. It was boring....a day in the life of Neurosurgeon, Henry Perowne. Ian McEwan's writing is so descriptive to the point of being over descriptive! Every thought, movement, sight is described in 'minute' detail. I must confess I skimmed this book near the end.
Profile Image for Grazia.
390 reviews156 followers
January 5, 2020
"e il loro sabato cederà il posto alla domenica."

McEwan è in questo racconto talmente dettagliato, minuzioso e chirurgico nel descrivere i pensieri del protagonista Henry da sfinire chi legge.

In apparenza si racconta di un sabato della vita di quest'uomo,vita che comprende una moglie, amatissima, due figli, altrettanto amati, una casa meravigliosa e un lavoro di prestigio, la neurochirurgia.

Il romanzo risulta in realtà essere una intensa riflessione su legami famigliari, sulla vita del nucleo ristretto soggetto alle turbative indotte dal contesto più ampio delle relazioni urbane e mondiali, alle soglie del finir della giovinezza, metaforicamente il sabato, di un uomo di successo.
Riflessioni sull'uomo, sulla pochezza di una vita al di là degli affetti, e sul mistero della composizione della mente dell'uomo.

"Ma la sua vita, come qualsiasi vita del resto, gli appariva inconsistente, constatando con quanta rapidità, con quale disinvoltura, tutte le suppellettili, ogni minimo dettaglio di un'intera esistenza potessero finire imballati, distribuiti, buttati via. Gli oggetti si trasformavano in spazzatura non appena venivano separati dal loro legittimo proprietario e dal loro passato;"

"Ma anche allora, non cesserà il nostro stupore nel constatare come questa modesta poltiglia sia in grado di allestirci dentro uno spettacolo di pensieri, immagini, suoni e sensazioni da cui scaturisce la certezza illusoria di un presente istantaneo, mentre un sé, altra ben congegnata illusione, dal centro, domina come un fantasma ogni cosa. "Sarà mai possibile spiegare come la materia diventi cosciente ?"

Sarà che ho la stessa età di Henry, sarà che mi sento anche io al limitar del mio sabato, ma questo McEwan, nonostane la perizia e l'abuso di esposizione di pensieri di Henry, mi ha curiosamente conquistato.
Profile Image for Barbara H.
692 reviews
July 10, 2019
To state that I read this is not exactly true. This was my second attempt to read this book. I want to preface my statements to say that I have enjoyed many of McEwan's books very much. Although I am a medically educated person and understand the relevant language, I found the narrative tedious, tremendously rambling and slow to reach any point of interest for me. Apparently I am in a minority, but fortunately, there are many more books of interest for me to read.
Profile Image for Janet.
Author 22 books87.7k followers
September 27, 2009
I hated this book. He's a great writer but this was pure bullshit. The best doctor in London married to the best lawyer in London, their kids a world class guitarist and a world class poet, the grandfather a world class poet too and even the goddamn grandmother was a channel swimmer. Isn't there one damn slacker in the whole group? Just one fat daughter who dated a criminal amputee and worked at the 7-11? please? I believed this book for a fast 2.5 seconds. Every punch is pulled. I wanted the crap beaten out of that doctor, not fast talking his say out of it. No permanent damage anywhere. I'd have given it one star but for the writing itself.
Profile Image for Lain.
Author 13 books120 followers
December 3, 2007
Rare is the author who can write a compelling story in clear prose. Rarer still is the author who can create fine and distinct layers of meaning while maintaining that clear narrative. Ian McEwan is one of those authors.

In the tradition of "Mrs. Dalloway," "Saturday" traces the ordinary activities of an ordinary man, neurologist Henry Preowne. Against the backdrop of a huge anti-war march in London, Henry goes about his daily activities -- a squash game, checking in on his patients at the hospital, getting ready for a dinner with family. Much as the world changed irrevocably after September 11, this day is one that will never be forgotten. A minor car accident with a neurologically impaired man has cataclysmic effects for Henry, his family, and the man himself.

Taking on issues of terrorism, war, and duty, "Saturday" is a touching story of the ordinary man trying to do the right thing when "the right thing" isn't clear.

I think that some of the other readers may have had issues with the disparate themes -- brain surgery, al Qaida, war, terrorism, family -- because they are not easily tied together, other than to say that those of us who look like terrorists (i.e., Baxter) may have other, non-apparent reasons for our actions. Terrorism is in the eye of the beholder, and the world is full of shades of grey. Those of us who try to take simple stances on tough questions are guilty of limited thinking.

This book is worth a read -- let it sit with you, and see what connections you make for yourself.
Profile Image for Amy.
699 reviews6 followers
May 23, 2018
Life is good for Henry, a successful surgeon who loves his wife and grown children and still plays a wicked game of squash. Then, in the midst of a routine day off, a random act of violence rocks his comfortable world. McEwan creates lots of tension in this novel and also gives us a fine portrait of a true nurturer and healer.
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
652 reviews247 followers
August 31, 2021
En esta novela McEwan reflexiona sobre el concepto de seguridad, o su reverso que es el peligro. El peligro imprevisible, inesperado. No en vano la acción se sitúa el 15 de febrero de 2003, cuando se produce una enorme manifestación en las calles de Londres contra la guerra de Irak. El autor nos muestra una sociedad aún conmocionada por los atentados de 2001, pero una parte de la cual no quiere buscar una venganza ciega.

La odisea de una familia acomodada durante este sábado quiere ser un reflejo a nivel micro de esta situación global. Henry Perowne es un reputado neurocirujano, con una familia feliz y conservadora. Todos sus miembros destacan en algún campo – la hija es poetisa, el hijo músico – y se disponen a celebrar el ritual de la cena familiar, a la que también está invitado el suegro, un sábado más.

Seguimos a Henry en su rutina sabatina, que incluye una partida de squash con un compañero de trabajo y comprar marisco para la cena, pero un pequeño incidente de circulación abrirá las puertas de su casa a la gente equivocada. Es la irrupción de los desposeídos, gente que convive con ellos en la misma ciudad pero cuya experiencia de la vida y posición en la sociedad no podría ser más diferente.

El tenso encuentro que se produce da pie a muchas reflexiones, principalmente sobre la precariedad de las cosas y de los entornos seguros que construimos – sea la clase media o la civilización occidental.

Como es frecuente en McEwan – por ejemplo El placer del viajero o On Chesil Beach – también aparece la sexualidad como fuerza perturbadora, como una pulsión tenebrosa que cuando sale a la superficie lo altera todo y produce situaciones de una tensión insoportable.

La historia está bien narrada y llena de apuntes realistas que nos sitúan en ese momento histórico. Quizá es un poco morosa – ecos del Ulises? – pero si te dejas llevar te sumerge en la tribulación de esta - por momentos excesivamente perfecta - familia. No me gusta demasiado el final, me parece muy obvio y apropiado para una película de Hollywood, aunque de alguna manera está corroborando la tesis principal de la novela.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,304 reviews298 followers
October 22, 2022
Книга, която не е лесно да се прочете!

Но си струва всеки отделен миг за вникване в историята, която ни разказва. Да, стилът е често накъсан, с почти нечетивни пасажи и описания, отклоненията и препратките са сложни и объркани, но такъв е живота на много хора и не е лесно той да бъде пресъздаден, пък било то в рамките на едва 24 часов времеви прозорец.

Главният герой, Хенри Пъроун е неврохирург, пределно отдаден на работата и семейството си. Интересно е да се проследи, как реагира той при необичайни обстоятелства. Размишленията му са доста различни и разнопосочни. Вълнуват го работата му, музиката, спорта, световната политика, отношенията в семейството му. За някои неща се притеснява, в други е уверен, с някои си няма идея как да се справи.

Допадна ми и описанието на характерите и стремленията на членовете на семейството му. Жена правист, тъст и дъщеря поети, син музикант - пъстра палитра от човешки типажи, описана неочаквано живо. Кратките ретроспекции в миналото помогнаха много за настоящето развитие на романа.

Засегната е и темата за втората война в Залива против С. Хюсейн и кървавия му диктаторски режим. За съжаление, много малко хора въобще си спомнят ситуацията преди началото на този конфликт. Аргументите за и против са изложени стройно и много бих желал да науча авторовата позиция сега, след повече от десет години. Не всяка криза има правилно решение, това е основния извод за мен.

С удоволствие ще препрочета тази книга, мисля че повторно вглъбяване в събитията ще има какво да ми даде.


"Родителите оказват малко или никакво влияние върху характера на децата си."

Скоро четох, че е направено подобно научно проучване и резултатите от него подкрепят този му извод.
Profile Image for Kaya.
217 reviews218 followers
March 27, 2022
McEwan is one of my favourite authors and that is why this review is so painful for me, trust me. I put a lot of effort to like this book and understand it, to read between the lines, find a hidden meaning. But I failed to comprehend it. It’s meaningless and it frustrates me that I don’t know what message McEwan was trying to send.

Saturday is set in 2003, two years after the 9/11 attacks and in the middle of Iraq invasion. It presents a single day in narrator’s life. Harry has a well-paid job that he loves, perfect wife and two flawless children that he adores. Needless to say they live a comfortable life with a lot of benefits that higher class serves. The plot consists of endless descriptions of how awesome and successful characters are. Harry’s wife is a beautiful lawyer who has no negative traits, his son is a handsome and talented blues musician, and his beautiful daughter Daisy is a published poet; The only plot line I cared about was Daisy’s relationship with her grandfather, and even that was underdeveloped.

I can't believe I stumbled upon a McEwan book that I genuinely don't like. The writing is compelling, like always, but the plot is messy. The novel has as low start. I guess that with McEwan it’s either hit or a miss. Even when things actually happened, they were narrated along with the protagonist's distracting thoughts. This could’ve been easily a powerful short story. Sadly, there is nothing controversial or thought-provoking in this novel. It even has an americanised ending. I guess this is one of the reasons I’m not fond of the novel. The problem is that I’m just used to problematic topics in McEwan’s novels.

For 50 pages, the protagonist talks about how much he adores his wife, it was unbearable. His life is too perfect. Supposedly, Henry is most gifted brain surgeon of his generation who plays squash and owns an expensive car. How could I connect with the character that has a personality of a Barbie? There was no conflict, nothing that seeks resolution.
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