Novelist McEwan refused entry to US

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Ian McEwan, the British novelist whose work, Atonement, recently won America's National Book Award, has been refused entry to the United States, it was reported last night.

The 55-year-old novelist, who counts America's first lady, Laura Bush, as a fan, was stopped by immigration officials on 30 March as he left Vancouver airport in Canada. He was on his way to lecture in Seattle when he was detained for four hours before being turned back.

He was travelling as a guest of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and officials at Caltech had told him he did not require a visa. Marjorie Gooding of Caltech, where the novelist was also due to lecture along with another date at Portland, Oregon, said the misunderstanding was a result of the "ambiguity in the interpretation of visa requirements".

The British consul in Vancouver, James Rawlinson, raced to the writer's aid and provided him with a visa from the US consul general and McEwan was due to fly out last night in time for his first engagement.

McEwan said that this was the first time he had been refused entry in the 30 years of travelling the world to give lectures. "I have never had anything to conceal and have always told immigration officials what I was travelling for," he told The Guardian.