The new novel from the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin.
When Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at her local Iowa airport, she literally doesn’t recognize him. The once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened?
Soon Edison’s slovenly habits, appalling diet, and know-it-all monologues are driving Pandora and her fitness-freak husband Fletcher insane. After the brother-in-law has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: it’s him or me.
Rich with Shriver’s distinctive wit and ferocious energy, Big Brother is about fat: why we overeat and whether extreme diets ever really work. It asks just how much sacrifice we’ll make to save single members of our families, and whether it’s ever possible to save loved ones from themselves.
‘Glorious, fearless … possibly her very best’ OBSERVER
‘Her best novel yet’ INDEPENDENT
‘A brilliant writer. She has a strong, clear and strangely seductive voice. The characters are strong . . . so moving it will make you want to gasp or cry’ SUNDAY TIMES
‘Piercingly bleak in tone and formally original in execution . . . reminding us, not a moment too soon, that Shriver is a novelist as well as a polemicist’ DAILY TELEGRAPH
‘From the start I was gripped. Once again, Shriver has provided much food for thought’ DAILY MAIL
‘Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother has the muscle to overpower its readers. It is a conversation piece of impressive heft’ NEW YORK TIMES
‘Big Brother finds the funny – and the pathos – in fat’
About the author
Lionel Shriver’s novels include the National Book Award finalist So Much for That, the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World, and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian and the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.
Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) returns to the family in this intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love. Ex-caterer Pandora has made it big with a custom doll company that creates personal likenesses with pull-string, sometimes crude, catch phrases. The dolls speak to the condition of these characters all trapped in destructive relationships with food (and each other): Pandora cooks to show love, to the delight of her compulsively fit husband Fletcher, whose refusal to eat dairy or vary from his biking routine are the outward manifestation of his remove. Pandora's brother Edison eats to ease the pain of a stalled music career and broken marriage. And both live somewhat uncomfortably in the shadow of their father's TV fame. In Big Brother, nothing reveals character more scathingly than food. Early in the book, the nearly 400-pound Edison arrives waddling through an Iowa airport with a "ground eating galumph" a man transformed in the four years since his sister last saw him. He brings the novel energy as well as an occasionally unpalatable maudlin drama. But Pandora will risk everything, including her own health, to save him. If this devotion and Pandora's increasing success with Edison's diet plan sometimes seem chirpily false, a late reveal provides devastating justification.