Big Brother: Book summary and reviews of Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Big Brother

by Lionel Shriver

Big Brother
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2013
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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 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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A masterful, page-turning study of complex relationships among our bodies, our minds and our families." - Kirkus

"[Shriver] returns to the family in this intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love" - Publishers Weekly

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

"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." - Margot Livesey

"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." - J. Courtney Sullivan

"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." - Gary Shteyngart

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

Big Brother
I was a little disappointed in this book. I know that the author lost her brother due to weight issues and this book is definitely about us and our weird relationship with food. It was told in the first person, which is always a bit tricky, but this allowed the narrator and chance to. I almost felt lectured, on all and sundry having to do with weight and food. Also the narrator's father in the book had been a TV movie star back in the day and we are treated to further diatribes on this. The main story was okay, family members and what we owe them, how to keep our own family content while dealing with a very large brother who is a house guest, but once again how this is resolved seemed a bit unbelievable. There are some good parts here and there about what food means to different people and how often food is used as a weapon or a crutch, but for me this wasn't enough. I also did not really like any of the characters with the exception of Cody, the young girl who is kind and tries to keep everyone together. Other readers may find what I did not interesting but for me, I just expected more.

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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 ...

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