Select one of the keywords
The Post-Birthday World    by Lionel Shriver order for
Post-Birthday World
by Lionel Shriver
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

What if we take the other fork in the road? In The Post-Birthday World Lionel Shriver explores this question in a most intriguing way. Irina, a children's book illustrator, is in a relationship with Lawrence, a nice, dependable intellectual. She meets Ramsey, a snooker champion, who dazzles her with his handsome looks and spontaneity. Shriver works out for us what would happen if Irina left Lawrence for Ramsey, while also showing us what would happen if Irina stayed with Lawrence.

For each chapter, then, there are two versions. And at the end the answer to the question might be that 'whichever a woman ends up with, she'll wonder if she wouldn't rather have the other'. But then again, perhaps Irina 'was doubly blessed, and her passion hadn't been divided in half, but multiplied by two.'

This is an amazing piece of writing. Whole streams of dialog repeat but by different characters, with just enough changes to make them particular to the action at hand. The writing itself is very accomplished, with quick-witted humor. And since it takes place in England, we get lots of irreverent British humor, expressions and current events. Some of the South London slang is pretty hard to understand at first, but it fits in with the story.

Even though the book is very long - 517 pages - and depicts some very explicit sexual situations, I will recommend it to my book group.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews