Big Brother

  • by Lionel Shriver
  • Narrated by Alice Rosengard
  • 13 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's 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.

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What the Critics Say

"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

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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- Kirstine

Fundamentally an annoying book but a good listen

What made the experience of listening to Big Brother the most enjoyable?

This in an interesting record of thoughts and attitudes about weight and some reflections on family. In the end I wasn't sure that it had said anything new about any of the topics it discusses.


Who was your favorite character and why?

There are no appealing characters in this book at all, that is one of its major flaws.


What about Alice Rosengard’s performance did you like?

Alice Rosengard does her best with some very aggravating dialogue. The brother particularly has a maddening way of talking, but I think it would be totally insufferable to have to read it, more acceptable to listen.


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- A. C. Harlan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 16-05-2013
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited