This website uses cookies to improve your experience.

Cookie policy

BJS Bookshelf: Saturday

Authors: Recommendation and Article by Mr Jonothan Earnshaw; Director, BJS Academy; United Kingdom.

Why should surgeons only read textbooks? Saturday is a novel; a book that is just for entertainment. It is an engaging but tense book with some uncomfortable themes. The central character is Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, who lives in London. McEwan credits Neil Kitchen, a neurosurgeon from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen’s Square, for the insights into the profession. He does a convincing job describing the emotions and actions of a typical surgeon. I’m not going to spoil the story, but it is about how a stable and otherwise apparently sensible man manages after meeting a sinister and troubled young man called Henry Baxter.

Why surgeons should read this book:

Although it is not McEwan’s most acclaimed book, it is a gripping book that has resonance for those with a surgical mindset. More of you will be familiar with Atonement, his famous early work later turned into a movie. Saturday was written in 2006, so its themes also include the Iraq war, which was ongoing at the time. Saturday is instantly familiar, and McEwan does a great job describing the thoughts and feelings of a surgeon outside his normal environment, and how he copes (or doesn’t) with adversity. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, McEwan has written a dozen books, all of which are of interest, although I personally enjoyed the earlier works (Atonement, Amsterdam) more than his more recent fiction.


Part of the charitable activity of the Foundation, BJS Academy is an online educational resource for current and future surgeons.

The Academy is comprised of five distinct sections: Continuing surgical education, Young BJS, Cutting edge, Scientific surgery and Surgical news. Although the majority of this is open access, additional content is available to BJS subscribers and strategic partners.

Discover the Academy
Surgeon Training & Surgeons in Surgery