On August Bank Holiday I went to a Guardian Live event to hear Ian McEwan talk about his new book: Nutshell. The story is a clever take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet (nothing new) and told from the perspective of a foetus (you’ve got us there).
The interviewer plucked out some wonderfully disconcerting play on words, such as the protagonist contemplating “life after birth” and discussing “the miscarriage of justice.” When questioned on his writing process, McEwan urges us to listen to people and our dialogue as it’s never linear; we interrupt, we pile sentence upon sentence and fail to finish. The novel also questions the idea of gender, a subject at the forefront of modern society, as the foetus expresses disappointment at having only two possible outcomes.
McEwan has perfected people led stories with a clear cut turn of events – action followed by result – and we, as readers, fall for his compelling domino effect every time.