When asked about how he assigns gender to characters at the Hay Literary Festival on Sunday, McEwan said he writes characters without any foresight about their gender all the time. And, while he was on this subject, he thinks people are foolish for finding out the gender of their kids before birth. He went on:
It is above all a person. Knowing in advance this social identity which confers a pink and blue fate almost seems like a form of moral kitsch, because what you are celebrating is a person. So I rather take the same view of my characters, if it falls out it is a woman or a man then I go that way.
McEwan’s on tour for his new novel called The Children Act. It is decidedly not a series of vignettes about parents discovering the gender of their new babies. Perhaps it’s about avoiding moral kitsch, though!