Mania by Lionel Shriver – Our Review


Our Review…

Shriver’s latest novel is set in America in an ‘alt-2010’ where the Mental Parity movement forces society to accept that everyone is equally smart. In this dystopian parallel world, IQs, academic grades, and employment qualifications are all discarded. The “S-word” (“stupid”) is now the most offensive slur and, past films, television shows, books and even scientists such as Hawking and Einstein are all cancelled. 

Shriver offers a bleak critique of societies who swing from one superficial mania to the next as a distraction from addressing the real problems with society (such as gun violence, racism, Brexit, pandemics, climate change to name a few). However, it is balanced by the quick wit and banter of the protagonist, Pearson Converse, and her family and ‘friends’. While Shriver’s approach is confronting and mordacious, her lexicon and prose are sublime, and the structure of this novel (which mirrors some of her other novels such as, “The Mandibles” and “Should We Stay or Should We Go”) is extremely polished and well-paced.

In “Mania”, Shriver offers no ‘gold stars’ for the many too many ‘exemplary sheep’, rather, she reaffirms the importance of education, critical thought and integrity with tactful humour and recognisable interpersonal relationships that offers plenty of laughs and moments of pause and reflection.

Review by Katina@ Great Escape Books

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