Some of you are probably tired of hearing me talk about Lionel Shriver (this is why I have not posted about Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood doing the soundtrack to the film version of We Need to Talk About Kevin—oh wait, I just did).
But too bad, because she recently gave an interview on the importance of libraries that Book Case and BookPage readers shouldn't miss. It's a bit scattered, but the interviewer basically just quotes Shriver for most of the piece, which makes for some interesting reading.
Just like the US, the UK is having to make some difficult budget choices. And just like the US, the UK is making cuts to cultural funding, including funding for libraries. Characteristically, Shriver mounts her defense in solely practical terms.
"I think you have to be cautious about destroying institutions and even buildings that would take huge amounts of money to replace.
“A library is the product of many years of effort, acquisition and investment. You save only so much money if you stop running it. But if you were to try to re-establish it, it would cost you a fortune. . . .
“It’s also an institution that makes it clear to people that they get something from government. And, you know, for people who are taxpayers and not on benefits, it’s hard to point to what you get."
You can read the full interview here.
And for those of you who aren't tired of Shriver—keep an eye out for our upcoming podcast about So Much for That.
As part of our Best Books of 2010 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
I'll say it: I think Lionel Shriver should have won the National Book Award. The smart, unsentimental expat's 10th novel, So Much for That, asks the type of questions about health care that few legislatures are brave enough to face. Such as, whether an extra three months of life for a cancer patient—spent in and out of hospitals, enduring painful treatments—is worth the sacrifice of a life's savings.
But despite the serious topic, the book isn't dry: humor, dark or otherwise, lurks on almost every page. So Much for That does what a good novel should: manages to entertain you and make you think at the same time.
Read our full review of So Much for That here.
We're still counting the top books of 2010—we'll be unveiling the Top 10 list in the December 7 edition of BookPageXTRA. This portion of the list contains two of my personal favorites for the year, Lionel Shriver's So Much for That and Paul Murray's Skippy Dies. Though they're two very different novels, they're both still fresh in my mind months after turning the final pages. What are your favorite books of 2010?
16. Faithful Place by Tana French (Viking, July 2010)
17. Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton (Other Press, November 2010)
18. The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (Random House, January 2010)
19. So Much for That by Lionel Shriver (Harper, March 2010)
20. Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (Faber & Faber, September 2010)