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Big Brother

Cover of Big Brother

Big Brother

A Novel

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • Lionel Shriver's novels include The New Republic, So Much for That, The Post-Birthday World, and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin. Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

Reviews-
  • Washington Post

    "As a writer, Shriver's talents are many: She's especially skilled at playing with readers's reflexes for sympathy and revulsion, never letting us get too comfortable with whatever firm understanding we think we have of a character."

  • People, People Pick (4 Stars)

    "(A) delicious, highly readable novel . . . (which) raises challenging questions about how much a loving person can give to another without sacrificing his or her own well-being."

  • Miami Herald

    "Big Brother is vintage Shriver - observant, unsettling, funny, but also, as Pandora admits, 'Very, very sad.'"

  • Evening Standard (London)

    "The latest compelling, humane and bleakly comic novel from the author of We Need to Talk about Kevin."

  • New York Times

    "Lionel Shriver's Big Brother has the muscle to overpower its readers. It is a conversation piece of impressive heft."

  • USA Today

    "The ever-caustic Shriver has great fun at the expense of crash diets and a host of other sacred pop-culture, er, cows. Politically correct it's not, but Big Brother finds the funny - and the pathos - in fat."

  • The Rumpus

    "A great plot setup that presents an array of targets for Shriver to obliterate with her knife-sharp prose."

  • New Republic

    "Her [Shriver's] best work--Big Brother is her twelfth novel--presents characters so fully formed that they inhabit her ideas rather than trumpet them."

  • New York Times Book Review

    "Pandora is a masterly creation."

  • The Times (London)

    "A surprising sledgehammer of a novel"

  • Sunday Times (London)

    "A gutsy, heartfelt novel"

  • Minneapolis Star Tribune

    "The diet - the story of a heroically undertaken significant change - is pretty nearly irresistible. But what really powers this story, an outsize look at the most basic of human activities, eating, is a search for the definition, and appreciation, of 'ordinary life.'"

  • Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

    "What would you do for love of a brother? For love of a husband? For love of food? In Big Brother, Shriver's new and wonderfully timely novel, her heroine wrestles with these vexing questions. Only the scales don't lie."

  • Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

    "The fellowship of Lionel Shriver fanatics is about to grow larger, so to speak. Big Brother, a tragicomic meditation on family and food, may be her best book yet."

  • J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Maine and Commencement

    "A searing, addictive novel about the power and limitations of food, family, success, and desire. Shriver examines America's weight obsession with both razor-sharp insight and compassion."

  • Library Journal

    "Brilliantly imagined, beautifully written, and superbly entertaining, Shriver's novel confronts readers with the decisive question: can we save our loved ones from themselves? A must-read for Shriver fans, this novel will win over new readers as well."

  • Publishers Weekly

    "An intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love."

  • Booklist

    "Shriver brilliantly explores the strength of sibling bonds versus the often more fragile ties of marriage."

  • The Economist

    "[Shriver] has a knack for conveying subtle shifts in family dynamics. . . . Ms Shriver offers some sage observations. . . . Yet her main gift as a novelist is a talent for coolly nailing down uncomfortable realities."

  • Guardian

    "Shriver is brilliant on the novel shock that is hunger. . . . Most of all, though, there's her glorious, fearless, almost fanatically hard-working prose."

  • Independent

    "Shriver is wonderful at the things she is always wonderful at. Pace and plot. . . . Psychology."

  • Bloomberg

    "Would I recommend Big Brother? Absolutely. It confronts the touchy subject of American lard exuberantly and intelligently; it makes you think about what you put in your mouth and why."

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    HarperCollins
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A Novel
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