Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver is a columnist at The Spectator and author of We Need to Talk About Kevin, among other books.

How the West plays up to Putin’s caricature

In an outstanding article in the New York Times, Roger Cohen recounted his experience of travelling across Russia for a full month, and hats off to the veteran journalist for risking a shared cell with the Wall Street Journal ‘spy’ Evan Gershkovich. Cohen explains that Vladimir Putin is successfully flogging his war in Ukraine to

The problem with the Bibby Stockholm barge

For British taxpayers perturbed by their £6 million daily bill for housing asylum seekers in hotels, New York City mayor Eric Adams has the solution: handbills. Exasperated by a sudden influx he characterises as a ‘disaster’, Adams plans to dispense police-tape yellow flyers both at the city’s 188 sites for housing migrants and at America’s

Heritable guilt is in vogue

I made a poor excuse for a Presbyterian even as a kid. I resented religious indoctrination every precious school-free Sunday. Yet despite my apostatic nature, any number of biblical tenets with broad secular application have become touchstones. Of particular value during our post-Floydian festival of flagellation is Ezekiel 18: ‘The son shall not bear the

The truth about ‘affirmative action’

I’ve never cared for the expression ‘affirmative action’, which puts a positive spin on a negative practice: naked, institutionalised racial discrimination – that is, real ‘systemic racism’, which was initiated in the United States long before the expression came into fashion. After all, following the Civil War, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution

The unspeakable truth about housing

Earlier this year I was a panellist for Any Questions, and a young man in the audience asked what could possibly be done to make it easier for Britons his age to buy currently unaffordable property. I said what none of my fellow panellists was foolish enough to venture on the radio: scarcity always raises

The weather isn’t ‘climate change’

I was in New York while the smoke from Canadian wildfires filtered over the city for three days last week, and I took a guilty pleasure in the aesthetic thrill. Midday, the light assumed the roseate hue of sunset. A cloudless sky appeared overcast, and the ghostly sun was so occluded one could look straight

The case against Ulez – by a cyclist

Whether you’re more afraid of the forces of order or the forces of chaos is generally a matter of disposition. A natural anti-authoritarian who despises being told what to do – especially when told to do something stupid – I’m more horrified by excesses of order. Granted, my greater fear of the state may simply

The myths around immigration

After the media bigged up the expiration of America’s Covid-era Title 42, which enabled the US to block entries into the country, the anticipated stampede across the southern border doesn’t seem to have occurred. No worries, then? Behold the miracle of social adaptation. Before the handy illegal immigrant ejection seat was retired last week, illegal

I’m a sucker for Tucker Carlson

I was asked on Tucker Carlson Tonight only once, while in New York about two years ago, and I turned the invitation from America’s most popular cable news commentator down. Did I worry that while discussing my previous Spectator column, I might put my foot in it? The subject of immigration is always a minefield.

Sam Leith, Lionel Shriver and Angus Colwell

23 min listen

This week: Sam Leith explains how he’s been keeping up friendships by playing online scrabble (00:55), Lionel Shriver questions Nike and Bud Light’s recent marketing strategy (06:52) and Angus Colwell reads his review of the V&A Dundee’s tartan exhibition (15:24).

How to lose sales and alienate people

In some quarters, American enterprise is alive and well. Established in 1929 to promote consumer protection, the conservative non-profit Consumers’ Research is launching the free service ‘Woke Alerts’, which texts subscribers news of companies ‘putting progressive activists and their dangerous agendas ahead of customers’. Using iconography reminiscent of adverts for those high-frequency plug-ins that ward

Why Democrats want Trump

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of an even more prominent fat man seems a big win for Donald Trump, regardless of how the case is decided. If convicted, Trump is a martyr, managing to portray himself once more as a persecuted Washington outsider, a status that’s quite a feat for a politician to retain

The high price of low interest rates

You’ll recall that I’ve railed for years against zero interest rates, which transplanted a cancerous marrow into the very bones of the financial system. Originally a novel emergency expedience to shore up a fiscal skeleton riddled with osteoporosis in 2008, effectively free money was allowed to persist for an improbable 14 years. Not to forget,

Despotic social controls cost lives

Look, I realise you don’t want to read this column. I’m unenthusiastic about writing it. For most of us, any mention of Covid triggers a deep aversion and desperation to flee. Even recalling the uncanny tranquillity of the first you-know-what – the blue skies, the blazing sunshine, the serene silence in once-bustling London – makes

My list of banned words

North America’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Language Project has released yet another list of Bad Say. Scientists are to swap ‘male’ and ‘female’ for ‘sperm-producing’ and ‘egg-producing’ – as presumably most biologists are stuck in remedial learning and haven’t yet got to the chapter explaining that humans come in only two sexes. But rather than

Why publishers are such cowards

After publishing 17 books, I’m no stranger to the publicity campaign. In my no-name days, my publicist would purr that my novel’s release would be ‘review-driven’ – which decodes: ‘We don’t plan to spend a sou on your doomed, inconsequential book.’ By contrast, as we’ve seen writ large with Prince Harry’s Spare, your volume can

Matthew Parris, Lionel Shriver and Gus Carter

24 min listen

On this week’s episode, Matthew Parris wonders what ‘winning’ in Ukraine really means (00:52), Lionel Shriver says she’s fighting her own war against words (08:43), and Gus Carter wonders whether it’s a good idea to reintroduce Bison into Britain (18:28).

The war against words

The University of Washington technology department has banned the word ‘housekeeping’. Not because the ‘problematic’ noun is overtly ist (ableist, sexist, racist, ageist…; by now, you must know the ist list). No, because it ‘feels gendered’. Would that they’d simply banned housekeeping. I hate scrubbing the shower. This month, the University of Southern California’s School

Lionel Shriver, Theo Hobson and John Maier

25 min listen

This week: Lionel Shriver asks whether we are kidding ourselves over Ukraine (00:56), Theo Hobson discusses Martin Luther King and the demise of liberal Protestantism (09:28), and John Maier reads his review of Quentin Tarantino’s new book Cinema Speculation (18:11). Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.