The new novel from the Orange Prize winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin
Irina McGovern’s destiny hinges on a single kiss. Whether she gives into its temptation will determine whether she stays with her reliable partner Lawrence, or runs off with Ramsey, a hard-living snooker player.
Employing a parallel universe structure, Shriver spins Irina’s competing futures with two drastically different men. An intellectual and fellow American, Lawrence is clever and supportive, but rigid and emotionally withdrawn. A British celebrity, Ramsey is passionate and spontaneous, but jealous, undereducated, and prone to pick arguments. Their contrasting characters will colour her other relationships, her career, and the texture of her daily life.
If love is always about trade-offs—if every romantic prospect is flawed—how can we ever know whom to choose?
Praise for ‘The Post-Birthday World’:
‘Those of us who rave about the dash and dare of Lionel Shriver’s fiction can rejoice that ‘The Post-Birthday World’, a ‘Sliding Doors’-style joint tale of alternative loves and lives, will garner the attention she always deserves.’
‘There is an impressive freshness in her treatment. The writing is intelligent, the characterisation thoughtful, the insights into love, sex and snooker sharp…Shriver confirms her reputation as an original talent’.
Mail on Sunday
‘The Post-Birthday World is exceptionally well written and the characters fully formed.’ Irish Sunday Independent
‘Shriver gives us another passionate novel…Like Sliding Doors, the tale splits into two, following the dramatic turns of each choice. Brilliant.’
‘It's another domestic drama with a compelling twist…the power struggle between the sexes is spot-on. Shriver chalks her narrative cue with relish and, once the story gets underway, it's hard to take your eyes off the green baize.’
‘’The Post-Birthday World’ is Lionel Shriver’s forthcoming work about the dilemmas of love – a must if you were gripped by ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’.’
About the author
Lionel Shriver's novels include the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, which won the 2005 Orange Prize and has now sold over a million copies worldwide. Earlier books include Double Fault, A Perfectly Good Family, and Checker and the Derailleurs. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five different languages. Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London.
The smallest details of staid coupledom duel it out with a lusty alternate reality that begins when a woman passes up an opportunity to cheat on her longtime boyfriend in Shriver's latest (after the Orange Prize winning We Need to Talk About Kevin). Irina McGovern, a children's book illustrator in London, lives in comfortable familiarity with husband-in-everything-but-marriage-certificate Lawrence Trainer, and every summer the two have dinner with their friend, the professional snooker player Ramsey Acton, to celebrate Ramsey's birthday. One year, following Ramsey's divorce and while terrorism specialist "think tank wonk" Lawrence is in Sarajevo on business, Irina and Ramsey have dinner, and after cocktails and a spot of hash, Irina is tempted to kiss Ramsey. From this near-smooch, Shriver leads readers on a two-pronged narrative: one consisting of what Irina imagines would have happened if she had given in to temptation, the other showing Irina staying with Lawrence while fantasizing about Ramsey. With Jamesian patience, Shriver explores snooker tournaments and terrorism conferences, passionate lovemaking and passionless sex, and teases out her themes of ambition, self-recrimination and longing. The result is an impressive if exhausting novel.
Great but not her best
After reading 'So much for that', anything would be a come down so I am trying not to be unduly harsh on my latest Lionel Shriver novel! It's a clever yet frustrating method of story telling; weaving hypothetical plot lines with apparently inevitable twists and turns. I liked the idea that, no matter what choices you make, life is never perfect. Good message. Just not as good as the previous book of hers I had read! :-)
Made me cry on the tube!