A striking collection of essays from the prize-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Should We Stay or Should We Go, So Much for That, and The Post-Birthday World.
Novelist, cultural observer, and social satirist Lionel Shriver is among the sharpest talents of our age. A writer who embraces “under-expressed, unpopular or downright dangerous” points of view, she filets cherished shibboleths and the conformity of thought and attitude that has overtaken us.
Bringing together thirty-five works curated from her many columns, features, essays, and op-eds for the likes of the Spectator, the Guardian, the New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, speeches and reviews, and some unpublished pieces, Abominations reveals Shriver at her most iconoclastic and personal. Relentlessly skeptical, cutting, and contrarian, this collection showcases Shriver’s piquant opinions on a wide range of topics, including religion, politics, illness, mortality, family and friends, tennis, gender, immigration, consumerism, health care, and taxes.
In her characteristically frank manner, Shriver shrewdly skewers the concept of language “crimes,” while chafing at arbitrary limitations on speech and literature that crimp artistic expression and threaten intellectual freedom. Each essay in Abominations reflects sentiments that have “brought hell and damnation down on my head,” as she cheerfully explains, and have threatened her with “cancellation” more than once.
Throughout, Shriver offers insights on her novels and explores the perks and pitfalls of becoming a successful artist. In revisiting old pieces and rejected essays, Shriver updates and expands her thinking. “Enlightened” progressive readers will find plenty to challenge here. But they may find, to their surprise, insights with which they agree.
A timely synthesis of Shriver's expansive work, Abominations reveals this provocative, talented writer at her most assured.
Lionel Shriver's fiction includes The Mandibles; Property; the National Book Award finalist So Much for That; the New York Times bestseller The Post-Birthday World; and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, adapted for a 2010 film starring Tilda Swinton. Her journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. She’s a regular columnist for the Spectator in Britain and Harper’s Magazine in the US. She lives in London and Brooklyn, New York.
“Shriver’s roving curiosity, her libertarian inclinations and her trans-Atlantic orientation (she resides mostly in England and lived for more than a decade in Northern Ireland) make her a rare voice, someone who challenges orthodoxies in the way that many journalists and public intellectuals claim to do but don’t. It is bracing to spend time in the company of such a smart, plain-spoken and unpredictable person.” — Wall Street Journal
"Should be mandatory reading for college freshmen." — Brett Stephens, New York Times
"Lionel Shriver is oddly unpredictable—and that’s what keeps her interesting. She seems to actively resist satisfying expectations." — Washington Post
"A razor-sharp observer of contemporary life who brings an acutely personal viewpoint to global issues in ways that feel both intimate and universal." — Booklist
"Spirited, incendiary, entertaining, and sure to ruffle some feathers." — Kirkus Reviews
"Shriver's fans . . . will make room on their shelves for it." — Publishers Weekly
“Shriver has always been constitutionally inclined toward defiance.” — Ariel Levy, The New Yorker
“Shriver is an incisive social satirist with a clear grip on the ironies of our contemporary age.” — Los Angeles Times
"Shriver is a master of the misanthrope.” — Time
“Shriver has always seemed to be at least a few steps ahead of the rest of us.” — New York Times Book Review