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Lionel Shriver

Author of We Need to Talk About Kevin

25+ Works 13,659 Members 718 Reviews 38 Favorited

About the Author

Lionel Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver on May 18, 1957 in Gastonia, North Carolina. She changed her first name because of her preference for it. She was educated at Barnard College, and Columbia University (BA, MFA). She has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast, and currently lives in show more London. Shriver wrote seven novels and published six (one novel could not find a publisher) before writing We Need to Talk About Kevin, which she called her "make or break" novel. She won the 2005 Orange Prize for her eighth published novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, a thriller and close study of maternal ambivalence, and the role it might have played in the title character's decision to murder nine people at his high school. The book created a lot of controversy, and achieved success through word of mouth. The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 was published in May 2016. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy of Serpent's Tail Press


Works by Lionel Shriver

Associated Works

The Feminine Mystique (1963) — Introduction, some editions — 4,438 copies
The Queen's Gambit (1983) — Introduction, some editions — 2,024 copies
Mr. Bridge (1969) — Introduction, some editions — 626 copies
The Library Book (2012) — Contributor — 384 copies
Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre (2016) — Contributor — 289 copies
Four Letter Word: New Love Letters (2007) — Contributor — 134 copies
Granta 107: Summer Reading (2009) — Contributor — 99 copies
The Book Lovers' Companion: What to Read Next (2012) — Foreword — 86 copies
The Best American Essays 2020 (2020) — Contributor — 81 copies
Ox-Tales: Fire (2009) — Contributor — 79 copies
We Need to Talk About Kevin [2011 film] (2011) — Original novel — 47 copies
Three Things I’d Tell My Younger Self (2018) — Contributor — 7 copies
Red: The Waterstones Anthology (2012) — Contributor — 5 copies
The BBC National Short Story Award 2013 (2013) — Contributor — 5 copies
G2 Thursday 17.01.08 (2008) — Contributor — 1 copy


20th century (60) America (70) American (146) American literature (126) anthology (63) chess (163) contemporary (83) contemporary fiction (121) crime (56) ebook (132) essays (82) family (180) feminism (651) fiction (1,956) gender (87) gender studies (63) history (71) Kindle (117) literary fiction (55) marriage (127) motherhood (123) murder (103) non-fiction (521) novel (221) Orange Prize (79) own (85) parenting (71) politics (55) psychology (114) read (237) relationships (83) school shooting (74) school shootings (59) short stories (123) sociology (122) to-read (1,435) unread (137) USA (132) women (202) women's studies (188)

Common Knowledge



We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver in Orange January/July (February 2013)


8.5 This is a satirical and cynical look at the current fitness trends and it would seem that the character of Serenata is somewhat based on the writer herself. Shriver admits to subjecting herself to a daily fitness routine similar to Serenata. It is also a look at a marriage and the challenges of adjusting from full time work to retirement or in Remington's case dismissal. The reason for dismissal was he had been accused of assault when he slammed his hand on the desk of his boss, in anger at her perceived ineptitude. He believed that he had been overlooked in the appointment to the position she now held and was the victim of reverse racism. She was a woman of African-American decent and had a disability confining her to a wheel chair. So Remington feels he has something to prove in attempting to complete at first a marathon and then a triathlon.… (more)
HelenBaker | 17 other reviews | Nov 27, 2023 |
Not sure if this is a 2* or a 4* book. Don't feel it deserves a bland 3 - sometimes a 2 is better than a 3.

On the positives, the book is very engrossing. The two main characters (one the narrator) are nicely defined and complex. It's an interesting topic, and there is a good, page-turn-inducing sense of menace growing steadily.

On the downsides... Well, it's frankly unbelievable. Some of the reactions of people to the more... unusual events seem ludicrous, and that in turn makes other people's reactions to their reactions ludicrous. I feel that Shriver was trying to walk a line between foreshadowing, without undermining the plot, and I don't think she succeeded.

I think the book would have been more resonant, more powerful without the big school shooting. There is no suggestion that this is supposed to help understand why people commit such atrocities - each seems to be considered as sui generis (although banal in its unoriginality, and the predictability that they will reoccur). No, the book is more about bringing up a difficult and disturbing child, and I feel would have been better left at that. But, and this may be a trifle unfair no Shriver, that would have been less headline-grabbing.

I'm also not convinced of how realistic it is that Kevin's behaviour and psycopathic tendencies - kinda obvious as they are here - would have been undetected or ignored for so long. Again, Shriver seems to want to have her cake and eat it here.

Finally, I feel there's supposed to be a big reveal, but it was telegraphed so far in advance that it's not surprising when it happens (which I wouldn't mind, except it was built up so much). Again - I think I see the balance she was going for, but feel she missed it by a wide margin. Which, isn't a bad summation of how I feel about the book in general.
… (more)
thisisstephenbetts | 392 other reviews | Nov 25, 2023 |
This book was, ...whew, well to say it was good or enjoyable doesn't quite fit, though it is stunningly well written in a technical sense. The reading certainly isn't "enjoyable", the whole thing extracts a toll on you even as you eagerly, apprehensively turn the next page, it is a profoundly searing, moving book, and as if by magic, the trauma on the pages wounds you as well. Lionel Shriver's prose is inspired and lambent and her skill for unsettling and unnerving, for taking a simple scene you're familiar with and turning it into a nightmare, is absolute. By all means read this book, but do not read it lightly, it will affect you, it will make you consider the worst case scenarios of parenting and relationships in general.… (more)
Autolycus21 | 392 other reviews | Oct 10, 2023 |
The first half of So Much For That was incredibly difficult to get through. It felt like there were too many lectures, and too little characterization. The second half moved at a much better clip, but unfortunately this book felt too much like "American Health Insurance for Dummies." Jackson, for the first half of the book, seemed to exist solely as a mouthpiece for the author. Shep and Glynis, who were the heart of the story, seemed murky and distant, much like a picture from a pinhole camera. The prose is wonderful in much of the book, but it is too flawed to recommend.… (more)
dogboi | 55 other reviews | Sep 16, 2023 |



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