• Birth—May 18, 1957
• Where—Gastonia, North Carolina, USA
• Education—B.A., Barnard College; M.F.A., Columbia
• Awards—Orange Prize
• Currently—lives in London, England.
Lionel Shriver (aka Margaret Ann Shriver) is an American journalist and author born to a deeply religious family (her father is a Presbyterian minister). At age seven, Shriver decided she would be a writer. At age 15, she informally changed her name from Margaret Ann to Lionel because she did not like the name she had been given, and as a tomboy felt that a conventionally male name fitted her better.
Shriver was educated at Barnard College, Columbia University (BA, MFA). She has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast, and currently in London. She is married to jazz drummer Jeff Williams.
Shriver had published six novels before the 2003 We Need to Talk About Kevin. She called it her "make or break" novel, referring to the years of "professional disappointment" and "virtual obscurity" preceding it.
Its publication in 2003, We Need to Talk About Kevin made Shriver a household name. Beautiful and deeply disturbing, the novel asks one of the toughest questions a parent can ask of themselves: have I failed my child? When Kevin Khatchadourian murders nine of his classmates at school, his vibrant mother Eva is forced to face, openly, her son's monstrous acts and her role in them.
Interestingly enough, her agent rejected the manuscript. Shriver shopped her book around on her own, and eight months later it was picked up by a smaller publishing company. The book created a good deal of controversy, but achieved success through word of mouth. As Publisher's Weekly comments, "A number of fictional attempts have been made to portray what might lead a teenager to kill a number of schoolmates or teachers, Columbine style, but Shriver's is the most triumphantly accomplished by far." Kevin won Shriver the 2005 Orange Prize.
Her experience as a journalist is wide having written for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Economist, contributed to the Radio Ulster program Talkback and many other publications. In July 2005, Shriver began writing a column for the Guardian, in which she has shared her opinions on maternal disposition within Western society, the pettiness of British government authorities, and the importance of libraries (she plans to will whatever assets remain at her death to the Belfast Library Board, out of whose libraries she checked many books when she lived in Northern Ireland).
The Post-Birthday World was issued in 2007. The novel uses a parallel-universe structure to follow one woman's future as it unfolds under the influence of two drastically different men. In 2010 Shriver released So Much for That, which was subsequently named a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. Her work The New Republic came out in 2012, and Big Brother, inspired by the morbid obesity of one of her brothers, in 2013. (Adapted from Barnes & Noble and Wikipedia [retrieved 6/11/2013].)
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