Journalist and author Lionel Shriver has made her name writing stories about real world issues – everything from the US healthcare system to obesity, immigration and terrorism. She's not afraid to speak out about issues big and small, whether it is espousing the importance of libraries, rubbishing plans for a Year of Publishing Women, or voicing concerns about population growth.
'I like wickedness, I like saying things you’re not supposed to say, and I probably value the quality of humor over any other—a quality that, in my opinion, is intrinsically amoral,' she told Bomb magazine in 2005.
Lionel had written seven novels before her breakout success with We Need To Talk About Kevin in 2003, which was later made into a feature film. Her latest book, The Mandibles, is set in the United States from 2029-2047. Only 13 years from now, the economy has collapsed, and America is a pariah state.
Lionel told INews in May that the concept of the novel was inspired by what didn’t happen in 2008. 'I think we under-appreciate how close we came to total meltdown. An awful lot of what was wrong with the bank’s balance books is still on the books. They didn’t fix it,' she said.
Despite her skepticism of modern America, Lionel is still patriotic. “I really like the idea of this country, and I wish we were more loyal to it,” she told The New Yorker. “I think the initial concept of a place where you could do pretty much whatever you wanted to as long as you didn’t hurt anybody else is positively brilliant."
No stranger to controversy, Shriver believes it is politically important to offend people. As she told Interview magazine: 'We have to fight back against this notion that being offensive should be against the law or something, and that everyone supposedly deserves "respect" for their often dopey views.'
Watch out Brisbane! Lionel Shriver will deliver the Festival's Opening Address on Thursday 8 September at 7.30pm. On Saturday 10 September Lionel will also be talking about her new novel, The Mandibles, at 6pm, and she joins a panel to discuss the legacy of inheritance at 2.30pm.