Summary

The new novel from the Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin.
When Pandora picks up her older brother, Edison, at her local Iowa airport, she literally doesn’t recognize him. The once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of pounds. What happened? Soon Edison’s slovenly habits, appalling diet, and know-it-all monologues are driving Pandora and her fitness-freak husband Fletcher insane. After the brother-in-law 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: why we overeat and whether extreme diets ever really work. 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.
©2013 Lionel Shriver (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
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Critic reviews

"Shriver proves she is not afraid of anything." ( Observer)
"If Jodi Picoult has her finger on the zeitgeist, Shriver has her hands around its throat." ( Washington Post)
"Shriver has the kind of cojones few English-language novelists possess, male or female." ( Globe & Mail)
"Her work is all the more valuable for its flagrant defiance of political correctness." ( The Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Kirstine on 28-05-13

The foundations of obesity dissected

The author's motivation for writing this book was the premature death of her grossly obese brother. She has constructed a story of a sister's herculean efforts to slim down a brother who had grown massively obese. The book is a mixture of lots of details about crash diets and thoughts about what makes people eat to such excess that they gain a massive amount of weight and as a consequence lose mobility, suffer from all sorts of unpleasant ailments that endanger life. Although this sounds a grim listen the author does manage to create characters that capture the attention, even those whom I didn't like. I was infuriated by the self-centredness of the brother and found it hard to believe the degree of the sister's dedication to help her brother lose weight. I felt sympathy for her husband and step-children Lionel Shriver is adept at dissecting family interactions and human emotions that ring true, even though, in this story, they are exaggerated for dramatic effect.
I'm interested in the subject of obesity, but think that the ruminations about food and diets, that dominate the book, some may find this tedious.

A though-provoking book about people's relationship to food in an environment of plenty.
The reader is excellent.

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15 of 15 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Felix Le Corre on 17-01-15

A surprising read

What did you like most about Big Brother?

Had it not been for an article I read about the author, I would not have bought this book. Nevertheless, I thought it would make for a change in my weekly diet of biographies. Whilst the start is a bit slow and I was unsure where the book was going, I surprised myself being completely hooked one the first third of the book was completed. Well told and brilliantly written, this story is an excellent way to dive into the merits and perils of seeking to help a family member in need but immature. Many will be able to relate.

Any additional comments?

Whilst the patronizing aspect of the sister/brother relationship may get on your nerve at first, it is really worth pursuing the read.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Ilinca on 31-05-13

interesting, timely, insightful

I loved her We Need to Talk about Kevin for its sharpness and laconic cynicism. Now I can't say I exactly loved Big Brother, but I did like it a lot. It's just as sharp and diamond-clear in its sparse style, and ** minor spoiler alert ** there is a twist at the end. It does explain away a lot of the stuff that seemed off-key along the way. And it is, again, a book of and for the times.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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