QotD: Lionel-Hearted Edition

Lionel Shriver was once known for writing We Need to Talk About Kevin, a 2011 novel in which a mother recounts her experiences with her son, a psychopath and school shooter. The book is good enough that my colleague David Rachels makes it a regular part of his course on psychopaths in literary and popular culture.

However, it seems that these days Ms. Shriver is better known for offending against the zeitgeist. Per wiki:

As the 2016 keynote speaker at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival, Shriver gave a controversial speech about cultural appropriation. Shriver had previously been criticized for her depiction of Latino and African-American characters in her book The Mandibles [published in 2016 — Prof. M], which was described by one critic as racist and by another as politically misguided. In her Brisbane speech, Shriver contested these criticisms, arguing that accusations of racism and cultural appropriation were tantamount to censorship and that all writers ought to be entitled to write from any perspective, race, gender or background that they choose. The full text of her speech was published in the British newspaper The Guardian.

What Wiki leaves out is that Ms. Shriver delivered her address while wearing a sombrero, a nod to a then-recent “dustup at Bowdoin College, in which a tequila-themed party involving miniature sombreros became a campus flashpoint.” This, of course, led to the usual umbrage.

ANNNyway, Ms. Shriver is at her game again, in an essay that appears in the March issue of Prospect. In turn, The Guardian has run an article on Shriver’s essay, where she calls on writers to have the courage to tell the stories they wish to tell, letting the shibboleths fall where they may. That article led me to her essay, and that’s where I found the QotD:

Fiction is under no obligation to reflect any particular reality, pursue social justice, or push a laudable political agenda.

Read the whole essay. And thank you, Ms. Shriver — long may you wave.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to QotD: Lionel-Hearted Edition

  1. Robbo says:

    Good on her! (I seem to recall reading about the sombrero speech at the time.)

  2. ScottO says:

    Heh, a tequila party with miniature sombreros? They were probably supplied by the distributor. Every time we go to a Cinco de Mayo celebration at a Mexican restaurant, the tequila & beer distributors pass out little sombrero bottle openers, miniature serape bottle drapes, and once even fake black mustaches to put on the bottle so that when you held it up to your lips, you had a mustache! How insensitive are those?!

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