Should We Stay or Should We Go Summary and Reviews

Should We Stay or Should We Go

by Lionel Shriver

Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver X
Should We Stay or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2021
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

When her father dies, Kay Wilkinson can't cry. Over ten years, Alzheimer's had steadily eroded this erudite man into a paranoid lunatic. Surely one's own father passing should never come as such a relief.

Both medical professionals, Kay and her husband Cyril have seen too many elderly patients in similar states of decay. Although healthy and vital in their early fifties, the couple fears what may lie ahead. Determined to die with dignity, Cyril makes a modest proposal. To spare themselves and their loved ones such a humiliating and protracted decline, they should agree to commit suicide together once they've both turned eighty. When their deal is sealed, the spouses are blithely looking forward to another three decades together.

But then they turn eighty.

By turns hilarious and touching, playful and grave, Should We Stay or Should We Go portrays twelve parallel universes, each exploring a possible future for Kay and Cyril. Were they to cut life artificially short, what would they miss out on? Something terrific? Or something terrible? Might they end up in a home? A fabulous luxury retirement village, or a Cuckoo's Nest sort of home? Might being demented end up being rather fun? What future for humanity awaits—the end of civilization, or a Valhalla of peace and prosperity? What if cryogenics were really to work? What if scientists finally cure aging?

Both timely and timeless, Lionel Shriver addresses serious themes—the compromises of longevity, the challenge of living a long life and still going out in style—with an uncannily light touch. Weaving in a host of contemporary issues, from Brexit and mass migration to the coronavirus, Shriver has pulled off a rollicking page-turner in which we never have to mourn perished characters, because they'll be alive and kicking in the very next chapter.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Shriver delivers on a high-concept premise full of alternative narratives based around themes of illness and aging...There is sometimes outlandish humor and periods of magical thinking in [the] dialogue, all rendered to brilliant effect. Readers will be entranced by Shriver's freewheeling meditation on mortality and human agency." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[T]he multiple perspectives produce a tender and complex portrait of the central couple. Mortality, Shriver finds, needn't be morbid; one of her imagined futures is downright pleasant and testifies to humanity's adaptability. It reads a bit awkwardly, but that'll happen when a writer tries something new. A return to form, merging Shriver's better instincts as both novelist and social critic." - Kirkus Reviews

This information about Should We Stay or Should We Go shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Lionel Shriver Author Biography

Jerry Bauer

Journalist and author Lionel Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver in 1957 in North Carolina, USA. She changed her name to Lionel at the age of 15 because she wanted to distance herself from the "girl with the pink ribbons in her hair, who married her high-school sweetheart and became an apple-cheeked housewife" that she felt was implied by the name Margaret Ann and the expectations of her family.

She received a BA and MFA from Columbia University and, since then, has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok, Belfast (where she reported on the Troubles for 12 years) and London.

Her first novel, The Female of the Species, was published when she was 29 (1986), and was followed by Checker and the Derailleurs (1987), Ordinary Decent Criminals (1990), Game Control (1994), A ...

... Full Biography

Name Pronunciation
Lionel Shriver: LIE-uh-nuhl SHRIVE-er

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