Amsterdam (Booker Prize)

I've just finished my first book for this challenge, "Amsterdam," by Ian McEwan (Booker Prize). Reading “Amsterdam" was a little like watching a train wreck: I knew something ghastly was going to happen, but I couldn’t turn away.

The novel opens at a funeral and follows the subsequent events in the lives of two men, both former lovers of the dead woman. One a composer, one a newspaper editor, each faces a moral dilemma and ends up making a terribly wrong decision. The consequences? See train wreck analogy above.

I’ve read some reviews that suggest the ending is too contrived or predictable, and I tend to agree, but that didn’t stop me from being completely enthralled, mainly due to the great writing. This is my third McEwan novel, and what I love about them is their dead-on descriptions of the characters’ internal states and thoughts. And how can you not love a little gem like this description of the newspaper editor: “Within his profession Vernon was revered as a nonentity.”

However, “Amsterdam,” in spite of its graceful and incisive writing, seems much less fully developed than “Atonement,” so it seems odd to me that this novel won the Booker Prize while “Atonement” did not.

Since this is my first post (I'm a little late to the party), here's my list of the books I'm going to read for this challenge:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pulitzer Prize)
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (Prix Renaudot)
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Pulitzer Prize)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer Prize)
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (Booker Prize)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Hugo Award)
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (Booker Prize)
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (National Book Award)
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott (National Book Award)
Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett (National Book Award)
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (National Book Award)
The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright (Pulitzer Prize)


    I enjoyed Atonement as well but haven't been able to get into anything else by him. I've started and stopped Saturday about three times.