With her seventh novel, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver received the attention and accolades that her talent warranted. Two well-received novels The Post-Birthday World (2007), and finalist for the National Book Award So Much for That (2010) have followed but given it’s harrowing subject and pitch perfect prose her novel about a deeply disturbed boy and his mother’s (in)ability to deal with her child’s problems, will be a big part of for what she is remembered.
Here is Shriver on We Need to Talk about Kevin:
… I wanted to tell a particular story, and I wanted that story to be real and plausible and specifically not an explanation for all these other shootings. In fact, when I was doing the research for the book and reading about all the real shootings— which is why I was able to put together that whole list as you read in the book— the news of these shootings coming in constitutes the events in the book, but I really got my fill of that kind of research much earlier on than I would have expected. And it was not that there wasn’t more material. In fact, the amount of material is infinite and horribly redundant. It was that it wasn’t going to help me. It wasn’t going to help me at all except in those little respects where I could fill in the details of Pearl, Mississippi on Jim Lehrer News Hour. But it was not going to make my story up for me. It was not going to give to me my characters. It was not going to tell a tale that reflected the thematic concerns I had, which have to with motherhood. So in many ways, I threw it all away [laughs]. I have a stack of printouts from the Internet. But I never referred to it. I could have used that research to put together some kind of Frankensteinian composite for a family and incident that was somehow representative. That was not my ambition.