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Lionel Shriver's Latest Novel Ponders Complex End-Of-Life Issues

Lionel Shriver is a journalist and author of 14 novels, including "We Need to Talk About Kevin." (photo (c) Mark Kohn)
Lionel Shriver is a journalist and author of 14 novels, including "We Need to Talk About Kevin." (photo (c) Mark Kohn)

(This conversation was originally aired on July 13, 2021)

Tom's guest today is the journalist and best-selling author Lionel Shriver. She is the author of 14 novels, including We Need to Talk About Kevin, an international hit that was awarded the Orange Prize in 2005, and made into a movie starring Tilda Swinton. Her novel, So Much for That, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2010. Her latest book is a deeply compelling and fascinating novel that is a rule-busting barrage of iconoclastic brilliance. It’s called Should We Stay or Should We Go.  It imagines a parade of possible outcomes when a healthy couple in their early 50s decides that when they reach their 80s, they will commit suicide.

The story unfolds in the context of, among other events, a world-wide recession, Brexit and COVID-19. Shriver asks penetrating questions about what the metrics of a well-lived life could or should be, and what responsibility, if any, one has to others and to oneself if those metrics begin to show inescapable diminishment.

Harper Collins Publishers
Harper Collins Publishers

Born in North Carolina, Shriver divides her time these days between London and New York. A regular columnist for the Spectator in Britain and Harper’s Magazine in the United States, Ms. Shriver has also written commentary for the New York Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

Lionel Shriver joined Tom on Zoom from her home in Brooklyn, New York.

Their conversation was pre-recorded, so we aren’t taking any calls or comments today.

This book imagines many different outcomes after its fictional characters have decided to commit suicide.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, phone the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and talk to somebody about it. Call 800-273-8255.

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Rob is a contributing producer for Midday.