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The enduring popularity of Ian McEwan

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(CNN) -- He is a blockbuster novelist and Booker Prize winner, whose adapted work was tipped for Oscar glory.


Making "Atonement": Author Ian McEwan is not one to be distracted by the glitz of Hollywood.

Ian McEwan has built a dedicated following over the decades with a string of best-sellers, but is currently experiencing a new level of celebrity amid the success of his novel "Atonement."

With its adaptation receiving a nomination for Best Picture at last month's Academy Awards, McEwan joined Talk Asia host Anjali Rao to talk about his role as film producer -- as well as the alleged plagiarism in his novels, his macabre writing style and the discovery of his long lost brother.

Despite "Atonement" being in the running for an Oscar, the writer had no plans to walk the glitzy red carpet. He tells Rao about his plans to go trekking in Tasmania and how he will watch the awards on the other side of the world: "I assume there'll be some rickety television set in the shack...I'm not sure it it's got electricity."

McEwan also gives an approving nod to the movie adaptation, for which he acted as Executive Producer: "I think they've managed to sort of cram everything in, there's hardly anything missing."

McEwan defends an alleged controversy that "Atonement" was plagiarized from Lucilla Andrews' autobiography, "No Time for Romance."

He admits that he was inspired by the romance novelist but stresses that he did not copy her work saying, "I'd drawn on it and acknowledged it and often spoke of her, and thought it was a fairly clear-cut matter."

McEwan does not take the accusation lightly however: " really is an accusation of theft, because it is probably the most serious thing you can say against a writer."

Having written an award-winning collection including "Enduring Love," "Amsterdam," "Saturday" and "On Chesil Beach," McEwan is famous for tales of bitter love and pessimistic human nature.

The British writer explains to Rao how his tone has softened over time, "...sooner or later life's gonna get in the begin to feel about the human project, that you rather want it to succeed. "

Although historical themes play a major part in his writings, McEwan mentions that he wanted to write a novel reflecting the present. The central themes he used for his novel "Saturday" is on the war on terror and the war in Iraq.

McEwan recalls how his frustration to the wars woke him up at 4am determined to talk to former U.K Prime Minister Tony Blair

"If I just had half an hour with Tony Blair, I could talk him out of it."

The author also shares a personal story as gripping as any of his fiction comparing his family story with the famous Shakespeare play "Twelfth Night."


He recently discovered that he had a brother he never knew and describes the nervous thoughts that raced through his mind when he met him for the first time,

"What's the politesse here? Do you shake hands, do you embrace, we sort of did both and neither..." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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