Lionel Shriver’s breakout international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin established her as one of the world’s most provocative and intriguing novelists. A dark and uncompromising look at an ambivalent mother and her ‘bad seed’ son, it was the book that launched a thousand dinner table arguments about nature versus nurture.
Her latest book, Big Brother, continues to explore the tension between who we essentially are and what we make of ourselves. And once again, Shriver wades bravely in to murky moral waters, confronting one of our society’s heftiest taboos: weight.
Narrator Pandora is horrified when her beloved big brother, Edison, a washed-up jazz musician, arrives to visit – weighing 300 pounds and submerging his feelings of failure in a torrent of food. She decides to sacrifice her marriage to save her brother’s life, moving in with him and immersing themselves in an extreme diet and exercise regime.
Big Brother is inspired by the death of Shriver’s older brother in 2009, from obesity-related illness. Although the setting and characters are fictional, and Edison is distinctly different from her real brother, Shriver’s dark humour, frank tone and ability to draw on her deeply personal family tragedy makes Big Brother another book that will be discussed for years to come.
Lionel Shriver will be introduced by Sarah L'Estrange.