Lionel Shriver
Fun with Financial Ruin: The Mandibles [A Family 2019-2017]
22 November 2017

Few contemporary novelists view the world with so unflinchingly acute an eye as Lionel Shriver. As an American in London who has previously lived in Kenya, Thailand and Northern Ireland, she brings a cosmopolitan perspective to her writing along with a keen understanding of the dynamics of domestic relationships. This was evident in her breakthrough novel, the Orange prize-winning We Need to Talk about Kevin, and she has extended her range in The Mandibles, a dystopian family saga about a formerly wealthy family coming to terms with sudden destitution as the result of a financial crash.

Set in the troublingly near future the novel draws both on the experience of the crash of 2008 and the long history of dystopian literature. In the words of one of the characters, ‘Plots set in the future are about what people fear in the present. They’re not about the future at all.’ While delivering a cautionary tale Lionel finds plenty of humour in her characters’ predicament as the normal stresses of family life are exacerbated by the special pressures involved in making the best of life in a wrecked economy.

Always a lively and sometimes controversial speaker, Lionel is not afraid to challenge the orthodoxies of the moment and has robustly defended her novel against those who have challenged her right to portray ethnic, especially Latin, characters in the name of ‘cultural appropriation,’ going so far as to don a sombrero to make her point.

Lionel will be interviewed by journalist and author (and stand up comedian) Viv Groskop. Viv's latest book, The Anna Karenina Fix: Lessons from Russian Literature was published in October 2017.