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Ian McEwan to publish his ‘most epic book to date’ this year

The narrative will span seven decades.

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Ian McEwan (Matt Crossick/PA)

Ian McEwan (Matt Crossick/PA)

Ian McEwan (Matt Crossick/PA)

Booker Prize-winning novelist Ian McEwan will publish his “most epic book to date” in autumn.

Lessons will span 70s years, from the end of the Second World War to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, while also taking in the Suez and Cuban Missile Crises and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It will be told from the perspective of McEwan’s protagonist Roland Baines, who “rides with the tide of history, but more often struggles against it”.

The narrative will follow him to boarding school where his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, while in later life he is left alone with his young son after his wife vanishes suddenly.

Lessons follows on from Machines Like Me, which explored an alternative history populated by androids, and Brexit satire The Cockroach, both published in 2019.

Publishing director at Jonathan Cape, Michal Shavit, said: “Not only is this Ian McEwan’s most epic book to date, it is also one of, if not, his finest.

“A universal story of love, acceptance and sacrifice, longing, desire, and of harm in childhood and its long term impact.

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“Set against the most amazing backdrop of world defining events, this is the story of an extraordinary century and an ordinary man grappling with all that it is to be human.

“A beautiful and moving novel for our times.”

Lessons will be published in the UK, US and Canada on September 13.


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