Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver's So Much for That was a 2010 finalist for the National Book Award in fiction.

From her Q & A with Bret Anthony Johnston:

BAJ: In the [National Book Award] fiction category this year, each of the novels seems heavily researched. What role does research play in your writing process?

LS: I do plenty of research, because I’m writing in the realistic tradition. I make lots of things up, of course, but I like for my readers to be able to trust that the nonfiction backdrop of the story is accurate. I’m also a pretty prolific journalist, and through writing for newspapers have come to appreciate the importance of factual truth. So I was relieved when the Science Times section of the New York Times had a doctor review this novel, and that reviewer reported there wasn’t a single medical error in the book. Whew.

BAJ: Do you remember your original idea for So Much for That? How closely does the finished book correspond to what you first had in mind?

LS: I was reading a New York Times article on-line about the fact that 1) the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US is not, as my neighbors in Britain might imagine, flat-screen TVs, but medical bills, and 2) the majority of Americans who go broke from medical bills have health insurance. After I recovered from my usual morning bout of outrage, I thought: that sounds like a novel. And then I thought: why don’t you write it, dummy.

For at the time, one of my very closest friends was being treated for mesothelioma. Her illness and subsequent death hit me very hard, so medical issues were on my mind. But it was only when I came up with...[read on]
Read about two of Lionel Shriver's six favorite books.

--Marshal Zeringue