Lionel Shriver was a must see booking at this year’s Hay Festival and the event did not disappoint. Shriver was here to talk about her ‘new’ novel ‘The New Republic’ – a book where everything is not as it seems.
First the book isn’t really new it was completed in 1998, written before ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. Secondly it’s a comic novel: about terrorism. Third it is set in the fictional province of Barba, tacked onto the south of Portugal – though the narrative was greatly influenced by the writer’s experiences in living in Northern Ireland, her home for 12 years. Shriver’s bitter distaste for terrorism came through forcefully. The novel embodies that distaste “there are two things that terrorists can’t stand – being ignored and being ridiculed.”
As the session drew to a close Rosie Boycott asked Shriver what her text novel would be about “fat” said the author. Boycott a journalist to the core responded without a beat “is that because of your brother?”. Shriver was clearly unsettled, revealing that her elder brother had been morbidly obese and died as a result. “We are meant to be hungry” the author says “being sated is unpleasant.”