The Fivesquare Amsterdam of Ian McEwan

in Critical Survey
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The reviewers of the Booker Prize winning novel, Amsterdam, were generally of the opinion, expressed by Daphne Merkin, that its author, Ian McEwan, fully deserved the prestigious prize, but that this was one of those special cases in which ‘the right writer is tapped for the wrong book’, because it was his preceding novel, Enduring Love, that was ‘probably his best novel to date’.1,2 Other reviewers were more dismissive of Amsterdam; Richard Eder considered the ‘satire … flimsy’ and ‘set up … with a few pains too few’, while Nicholas Lezard felt that the euthanasia episode, which ‘gives the novella its title … is a little corny but is a way of telling us not to take it too seriously’. 3 Because of this ‘smart, synthetic ending’ that makes the two main characters ‘seem as cartoonish as they had hitherto been true’, Brooke Allen concluded that ‘the book is flawed, perhaps fatally so’.4 Nor was David Malcolm, arguably the world’s foremost expert on McEwan, particularly happy with the euthanasia ending.