Really a Serious Novel,
This review is from: The New Republic (Paperback)
It's a little late in the day to discover Lionel Shriver. She is an accomplished novelist of the first rank with a distinctive and highly perceptive view of human nature and the human condition.
She presents this novel as a comic but this is deceptive. It is comic in the wayu that Measure for Measure is comic; that is seldom funny and not intending to be.
It explores serious isssues in serious ways. A major theme is, of course terrorism, giving in to terrorism and realpolitik. She wrote it in Belfast and was influenced by her perception of terrorism there. It is also a book about charisma: why some people have it and some don't; the desire to be loved and to make a mark; why goodness is not always the attraction. A perceptive comment is that good-looking people need a reason to be disliked, unattractive people need a reason to be liked. It is also a satire on journalism and introduces a variety of characters who are quite distinctive. But the most interesting are the protagonists Edgar and Barrington.
This is not a slight novel, even though Shriver presents it, according to Graham Greene's categories, as an 'entertainment'. It is, but much more than that. Read it and see.