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Audiences to hear 'seductive prose' from 'Atonement' author Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan
March 26, 2013

A visit by Ian McEwan – the much-lauded author of “Atonement” and “Amsterdam” – would not be complete without a literary event. Join the Origins Project and the Department of English for a public reading and book-signing by the Man Booker prize-winning novelist on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Business Administration C-Wing (BAC), room 216 on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. 

Ian McEwan is the Origins Project Distinguished Visiting Professor and will be in residence at ASU March and April of this year.

McEwan’s work features characters that are frequently shaken out of their ordinary lives and find themselves in unthinkable situations. “Moments of crisis or danger represent a means of exploring characters – the strengths and defects of personality – while at the same time offering a degree of narrative interest,” said McEwan in an interview with Random House, “it's a matter of having your cake and eating it.”

Distinctive among writers of serious fiction is McEwan’s ability to portray environments and the characters that inhabit them in a realistic yet quirky manner. “I've always liked my writing to have a visual quality,” he said. “I like to think my reader can see what I can see. Clarity is a great virtue in writing. There are certain scenes that can only succeed if the visual elements are attended to first.”

McEwan’s haunting, compelling themes gently uncover the moral angst of our age, and expose the fallibility of ordinary human beings as they struggle to make sense of their world. “I value the word for its power to take a reader inside another person's mind, inside a character,” said McEwan. “We discover what it might be, to be someone other than ourselves.”

This public reading is an opportunity for audience members to peek into the extraordinary mind of one of the world’s most creative individuals, and learn more of "fiction’s generous knack of annotating the microscopic lattice-work of consciousness, the small print of subjectivity."

McEwan has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for “Amsterdam” in 1998. His novel “Atonement” received the WH Smith Literary Award, National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award, Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction, and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel. It was made into an Oscar-winning film starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightley in 2007.

McEwan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Society of the Arts and the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences. The author's most recent book is 2012's “Sweet Tooth,” which The New York Times claims has "effortlessly seductive" prose.

This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the reading will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. A book-signing will immediately follow. The reading is sponsored by the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and hosted by its Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. For more information about the reading, please contact Corey Campbell at This event concludes the Origins Stories weekend events. 

Written by Jake Adler

Media contact:
Kristen LaRue,
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences