Cover image for Big brother : a novel
Title:
Big brother : a novel
Author:
Shriver, Lionel.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper, [2013]

©2013
Physical Description:
373 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
"Rich with Shriver' distinctive wit and ferocious energy, Big Brother is about fat: an issue both social and excruciatingly personal. It asks just how much we'll sacrifice to rescue single members of our families, and whether it's ever possible to save loved ones from themselves." -- Dust jacket.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781554682034

9780061458576
Format :
Book

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On Order

Summary

Summary

From the acclaimed author of the National Book Award finalist So Much for That and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin comes a striking new novel about siblings, marriage and obesity

For Pandora, food is central to life, so central that she sometimes wonders if "She foraged" should be engraved on her tombstone. For her husband, Fletcher, a self-employed cabinetmaker who crafts lovely but unaffordable one-of-a-kind furniture, exercise is paramount: he spends hours a day cycling. But the couple's comfortable, if sometimes strained, routine is about to be irrevocably changed with the arrival of Pandora's big brother, Edison, who is now three times the size he was when the siblings last saw each other. He is, in fact, morbidly obese.

And it's not just the weight. Edison interjects himself into Pandora's world--breaking Fletcher's handiwork, making massive breakfasts for the family and, most disconcertingly, forming a bond with Pandora's stepchildren and opening doors to the past and to her parents that she would rather keep shut.

Determined to keep her family together, and to confront the literal elephant in the room, Pandora embarks on a challenge: she'll find an apartment for Edison, move in with him and support him financially, but only if he loses weight--enough weight to resemble the person he once was. It will be the hardest thing that Edison has ever done. The result is a series of transformations so shocking that it throws the family into chaos and presents Pandora with a challenge of her own: do you sometimes have to choose between the family you're born into and the one you've created?


Author Notes

Lionel Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver on May 18, 1957 in Gastonia, North Carolina. She changed her first name because of her preference for it. She was educated at Barnard College, and Columbia University (BA, MFA). She has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast, and currently lives in London. Shriver wrote seven novels and published six (one novel could not find a publisher) before writing We Need to Talk About Kevin, which she called her "make or break" novel. She won the 2005 Orange Prize for her eighth published novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, a thriller and close study of maternal ambivalence, and the role it might have played in the title character's decision to murder nine people at his high school. The book created a lot of controversy, and achieved success through word of mouth. The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 was published in May 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Shriver continues her fictional inquiry into the timely topic of obesity, launched in the The New Republic (2012), with a novel about how weight problems can alter the dynamics of a family in devastating ways. Pandora is a successful entrepreneur living in Iowa with her uptight husband, Fletcher. Pandora's brother, Edison, is a once-popular jazz pianist in New York who can no longer pay his rent. Against Fletcher's wishes, Pandora sends Edison a plane ticket to Iowa; when he arrives, she almost doesn't recognize him owing to the hundreds more pounds he carries than when she last saw him. Edison's slovenly habits disgust Fletcher, a nutritional Nazi, so when Pandora commits to helping Edison lose all those pounds, the siblings move to an apartment nearby. Shriver creates suspense by adroitly involving the reader in Pandora's effort to help her brother, and as in previous novels, she injects an unexpected twist at the end, which some readers may find annoying rather than clever. Nevertheless, Shriver brilliantly explores the strength of sibling bonds versus the often more fragile ties of marriage.--Donovan, Deborah Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) returns to the family in this intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love. Ex-caterer Pandora has made it big with a custom doll company that creates personal likenesses with pull-string, sometimes crude, catch phrases. The dolls speak to the condition of these characters-all trapped in destructive relationships with food (and each other): Pandora cooks to show love, to the delight of her compulsively fit husband Fletcher, whose refusal to eat diary or vary from his biking routine are the outward manifestation of his remove. Pandora's brother Edison eats to ease the pain of a stalled music career and broken marriage. And both live somewhat uncomfortably in the shadow of their father's TV fame. In Big Brother, nothing reveals character more scathingly than food. Early in the book, the nearly 400-pound Edison arrives-waddling through an Iowa airport with a "ground eating galumph"-a man transformed in the four years since his sister last saw him. He brings the novel energy as well as an occasionally unpalatable maudlin drama. But Pandora will risk everything, including her own health, to save him. If this devotion and Pandora's increasing success with Edison's diet plan sometimes seem chirpily false, a late reveal provides devastating justification. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Pandora hasn't seen her older brother, Edison, a hip New York jazz musician, in four years. When she picks him up at an Iowa airport, he gives her the shock of her life: Edison has gained over 200 pounds and is unrecognizable. His visit is an intrusion into Pandora's home, which she shares with her fitness-freak husband, Fletcher, and her two adopted children. National Book Award finalist and New York Times best-selling novelist Shriver (So Much for That; We Need To Talk About Kevin) is known for her unstinting scrutiny of timely topics. Now she confronts the social but also painfully private issue of obesity through sibling relationships and marriage. However, the novel is essentially about fat-the nature of our relationship to food, why we overeat, and whether crash diets really work. As Fletcher becomes incensed with his brother-in-law's appalling eating habits, slovenly appearance, and careless behavior, he gives Pandora an ultimatum: it's him or me. VERDICT 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. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 12/9/12.]-Lisa Block, Atlanta (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.