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Ian McEwan | Biography


Born in Aldershot, Hampshire, Great Britain on June 21, 1948, Ian McEwan spent his early life in several different countries including Germany, Libya, and Singapore because of his father's military career. He attended secondary school and university in England and earned a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Anglia.

Known as an atheist, McEwan is an outspoken critic of religion, especially Islam. He strongly opposed the Iraq War (2003–11).

McEwan's works often explore various ways of interpreting history. He is considered a postmodernist, although his psychologically disturbing early novels earned him the nickname "Ian Macabre."

McEwan has published novels, plays, screenplays, and short story collections. He has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize six times, including for Atonement, winning in 1998 for the novel Amsterdam. His earliest critical acclaim came with the publication of the novel The Comfort of Strangers in 1981.

Like his character Briony Tallis in Atonement, McEwan spent a lot of time researching in London's Imperial War Museum. His father was an infantry solider in Dunkirk, France, and McEwan depicted Robbie Turner's military retreat scenes in Atonement with his father's experience in mind.

Atonement remains McEwan's most popular novel. In 2009 Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 novels of the 2000s, praising both its tenderness and its "powerful and remorseless" plot. In a 2001 review of Atonement, The Guardian lauded McEwan for showing how "subjective or interior transformation can now be seen to have interacted with the larger march of 20th-century history," noting English novelists Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence as clear influences on the novel.

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