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Ian McEwan

John Updike said of his most enduring creation, Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, that he was a version of the author who never went to college. Roland Baine, protagonist of Lessons, is something similar: a McEwan that failed. He’s a man whose early gifts aren’t brought to fruition. His closest brush with literary fame is brief: early marriage to a woman who becomes the kind of artist he could never be. Roland does not possess the requisite ruthless ambition; he lacks the splinter of ice in the heart. He’s a sensualist by inclination and passive by nature – a born helpmeet and second stringer who cobbles together a working life as a lounge-bar pianist and part-time tennis instructor.

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Ian McEwan’s new novel imagines an alternative history of England in the 1980s, one in which Argentina won the Falklands War and Margaret Thatcher was subsequently trounced at the polls. It also projects an alternative narrative of scientific progress, one in which the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing did not die in 1954 ...

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