Readersforum's Blog

May 17, 2013

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver – review

Big-BrotherLionel Shriver’s obesity tale is really about love, loss and family – and it may be her best book yet.

By Julie Myerson

As the writer who burst into our lives and minds with one of the most shatteringly dark novels ever written about parenthood, Lionel Shriver has, rightly, become famous for her peculiarly uncompromising brand of emotional noir. But her subsequent novels, while still sharing that unique, hard-boiled directness, have also been threaded through with a deep humanity, humour and tenderness for which she never quite – not critically anyway – seems to garner sufficient credit.

Maybe it’s her own fault. She doesn’t make life easy for herself with her choice of subject matter. Mass murder, snooker, the US healthcare system – who but Shriver could pull off a novel about terminal cancer that’s angry, yes, but also warmly, movingly upbeat? And now, obesity. But despite the unpromising theme, this one, like the rest, is really about love, loss, family – ordinary human beings struggling to do the right thing by one another. It’s also possibly her very best.

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