Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
A Novel

76%

13 Critic Reviews

...Ms Shriver offers some sage observations on the pleasures of eating, the link between fat and shame and the struggle to lose weight...
-The Economist

Synopsis

Big Brother is a striking novel about siblings, marriage, and obesity from Lionel Shriver, the acclaimed author the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin.
 
For Pandora, cooking is a form of love. Alas, her husband, Fletcher, a self-employed high-end cabinetmaker, now spurns the “toxic” dishes that he’d savored through their courtship, and spends hours each day to manic cycling. Then, when Pandora picks up her older brother Edison at the airport, she doesn’t recognize him. In the years since they’ve seen one another, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? After Edison 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: an issue both social and excruciatingly personal. 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.

 

About Lionel Shriver

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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 languages. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She lives in London.
 
Published June 4, 2013 by Harper. 417 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Big Brother
All: 13 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Jincy Willett on Jun 28 2013

While the novel was inspired, in part, by Shriver’s own brother’s struggle with obesity, the topic could hardly be more universal...

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Jun 23 2013

Despite its prickly tone and not terribly likable characters, Lionel Shriver’s “Big Brother” has the muscle to overpower its readers. It is a conversation piece of impressive heft.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Zoe Williams on May 24 2013

The real impediment to identification and credibility is the cast of characters, rather than the plot; thin and self-interested, they made for a colourless scene. This tragedy was regurgitated before it had been digested.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Julie Myerson on May 11 2013

The novel's ending is a dark, daring, heart-stopping shock, and so it should be.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by ManoflaBook.com on Jun 11 2013

...I was expecting more but I still enjoyed the author’s mix of interesting characters and social commentary. The book gives the reader much to think about...

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NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Jun 04 2013

...I can assure you, without giving away too much, that Shriver manages to redeem this cockamamie scenario in the end.

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Kirkus

Excellent
on Mar 17 2013

A masterful, page-turning study of complex relationships among our bodies, our minds and our families.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by William Leith on May 10 2013

I liked this novel. Shriver writes well, and with empathy.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Jun 09 2013

...Shriver’s willingness to wade into the controversial waters of contemporary issues, and her ability to do so with consummate intelligence and knowledg...are what make her work distinctive and consistently interesting.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Deborah Dundas on Jun 07 2013

...she takes a look at another great issue of our time: obesity — the hows and whys of it, how we, as a society, view food and weight. Wound up in it all is an examination of family relationships, marriage and intimacy.

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The Economist

Good
on May 04 2013

...Ms Shriver offers some sage observations on the pleasures of eating, the link between fat and shame and the struggle to lose weight...

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Jun 17 2013

For all of its focus on food and eating (or not eating), Big Brother is not really about our food obsessions, but about types of hunger and addiction and those ever-lolling tongues of familial guilt.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Zsuzsi Gartner on Jun 07 2013

For all of its focus on food and eating (or not eating), Big Brother is not really about our food obsessions, but about types of hunger and addiction and those ever-lolling tongues of familial guilt.

Read Full Review of Big Brother: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

Reader Rating for Big Brother
64%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 431 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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