Part thriller, part psychological study, part farce, Amsterdam is one of the prize’s most polarising winners. Even Ian McEwan himself admitted it had a ‘rather improbable comic plot’.
According to McEwan, the story – a mixture of love, friendship, politics, media ethics, and euthanasia – grew out of a ‘long-running joke’. Not all critics were in on it and, as the author later noted, the novel’s ‘(as opposed to my) misfortune was to win the Booker Prize, at which point some people began to dismiss it’.
Only some people though. In a sly dig at previous winners’ humblebrags, McEwan promised to spend his winnings ‘on something perfectly useless’ rather than on ‘bus fares and linoleum’.