I've always had mixed feelings about Ian McEwan's books, but after being totally impressed by hearing him speak at the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years ago and knowing Solar is about climate change I put this book on my 'to read' list. (Yes my 'to read' list is long!).
Michael Beard works in climate change, he's a physicist who at the beginning of the book doesn't beleive in climate change, nor does he seem to care at all, it's just a job. He takes part in an awareness raising trip to the Arctic, where he is the only scientist amongst a group of artists and the only person in the group without a project of their own. He talks about his institute's work as if it's his own and becomes popular and admired in the group.
He eventually appropriates a dead colleague's work, claims it as his own and wins the Nobel Prize.
Along the way he eats gluttonously, drinks alcohol to excess and has more love affairs than he can keep count of.
Michael Beard is not only a thoroughly unlikeable character (which made me dislike the book) but he is also a horribly true to life symbol of human excess and disconnect with nature and the environment (which makes the book very effective).
The book is by turn satirical and funny, depressing and rage-inducing and compelling, thought provoking and insightful of our relationship with the most pressing issue facing us today.
Solar by Ian McEwan published by Random House