Big Brother by Lionel Shriver - review by John Dugdale

John Dugdale

Fat Chancer

Big Brother


HarperCollins 344pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Lionel Shriver shares quite a lot with Jonathan Franzen, besides being an American-born novelist of the same generation. Both made late breakthroughs around a decade ago; and both write realist, substantial, neo-Victorian novels about social and ethical problems, tending to illuminate these problems through the prism of a single family.

Since his Damascene mid-life conversion to Dickens, however, Franzen has deployed titular abstractions – mysteriously with The Corrections, less so with Freedom – in order to knit together conceptually various trends and dilemmas. Shriver, in contrast, readily homes in on one dominant issue in each book: school massacres in We

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