Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver

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

Are we kidding ourselves over Ukraine?

Optimism can be surprisingly hilarious. In my last novel, two spouses agree to quit the planet once they’ve both turned 80, and the book explores a dozen possible outcomes of their pact. No chapter made me chuckle at the keyboard more than ‘Once Upon a Time in Lambeth’ – in which the couple don’t kill

Xi, Covid and seasonal schadenfreude

’Tis indeed the season to be jolly.  Over the holidays, we can all put our feet up to view a cracking remake of David and Goliath, ‘The Microscopic Nullity vs Winnie-the-Pooh’, in which a giant bear-like bully has been pushing around 1.4 billion people but cannot prevail against an opponent too tiny to be seen by

What Trump really wants

Over the years, I’ve received my share of green-ink author’s mail. You know, from folks who’ve discovered an exciting variety of textual special effects: lurid colours, freaky fonts, creative insertions of upper case, frenzies of inverted commas around standard vocabulary and lashings of exclamation marks. Calling these letters ‘fan mail’ would be a stretch. They

James Heale, Lionel Shriver and Tanjil Rashid

23 min listen

This week: James Heale reads his interview with former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice (00:50), Lionel Shriver asks what’s the price of fairness (05:38), and Tanjil Rashid reflects on the BBC at 100 (14:01). Produced and presented by Oscar Edmondson.  

Should the better-off pay more for everything?

Once the energy price cap expires in April, the Chancellor is apparently considering the levy of ‘social tariffs’ on the energy bills of the better off – a pleasantly elastic category, since most of us are better off than somebody. Charging wealthier customers extra for their energy could facilitate reducing the bills of benefit claimants.

Kamala’s blagging it

We throw around pejoratives such as ‘Idiot!’ a bit too carelessly, because then when we need to flag up genuinely subpar intelligence, the slag doesn’t land. I sometimes resort to the distinction ‘medically stupid’. As in, ‘Kamala Harris is medically stupid’. As I write this, next year’s Congressional balance of power is uncertain. What is

Money is rotting

Punters and pundits alike reacted to rising mortgage rates in the wake of Truss’s mini-Budget with indignant horror. Leaving aside a market overreaction to fairly modest policy proposals, I wanted to tell aghast homeowners: ‘Well, what did you think was going to happen, people?’ In 2008, the plunging of central bank rates to nearly zero

Harriet Sergeant, Lionel Shriver, Martin Vander Weyer and Philip Patrick

30 min listen

This week: Harriet Sergeant writes about why ethnicity matters in sexual abuse cases (0:30), Lionel Shriver takes aim at the American university students failing their exams, (8:06), Martin Vander Weyer looks at the latest forecasts for housing prices (17:01), and Philip Patrick thinks Japanese food is overrated (25:19). Produced and presented by Natasha Feroze.

Should failing students really graduate as doctors?

If I seem to be bashing universities lately, they’ve asked for it. The prestigious New York University in lower Manhattan didn’t cover itself in glory when, just before this semester began, it responded to a petition from 82 students (out of a class of 350) by sacking the professor. The petitioners’ main objection? The course

Shame should not be heritable

Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope claims it was ‘inevitable’ that a university ‘as long-established as Cambridge’ would have links to slavery. Now that faculties gorge on racial guilt as Cambridge dons once famously feasted on roasted swans, what was really inevitable is that a body christened ‘The Advisory Group on the Legacies of Enslavement’ would find links

Not all Americans are so crass

In the face of American snark about the Queen’s death, many a British newspaper reader was disgusted. With bad tidings imminent on Thursday last week, an academic at Carnegie Mellon tweeted: ‘I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.’ An assistant professor in Rhode

Why didn’t more people resist lockdown?

Last week’s Spectator interview with Rishi Sunak conveyed the anti-science ‘science’, the paucity of even fag-packet cost-benefit analysis and the ideological lockdown of Boris Johnson’s cabinet that brought forth calamitously extensive lockdowns of everyone else. Ever since, numerous politicians and institutions implicated in this rash experiment have had a vested interest in maintaining the myth

The shameful truth – terrorism works

This is a bleak version of looking on the bright side, but what’s astonishing about last week’s vicious stabbing in upstate New York is that such an attack didn’t occur decades ago. However sickeningly incapacitated at present, Salman Rushdie himself would doubtless agree. Having survived unharmed for 33 years under a death sentence – endorsed

Good riddance to the Tavistock

Most push notifications that pop up on my tablet concern impending catastrophe. But last week, one newsflash made my day. Glory hallelujah, the NHS is closing the Tavistock. A clatter of tattletales have warned since 2005 that the UK’s only clinic for minors confused about which sex they are – having been encouraged to be

Why I won’t have a Covid booster

In the news recently, we’ve heard from multiple Britons who’ve lost family members or sacrificed their own health to Covid’s not-really-vaccines. But anecdotes lack statistical heft. Sceptical viewers might too easily dismiss individual stories of the harms caused by the biggest inoculation rollout in history as freakish aberrations, mere coincidence (could relatives who happened to

The age of the anti-natalists

As of 2023, the novel for which I may still be best known will have been out for 20 years. We Need to Talk About Kevin clearly reached the bestseller list because it hit a zeitgeisty nerve. The story of a high-school mass murder (after Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and Uvalde, the one aspect of

The real plan for inflation? To let it rip

Check out these hyperventilating headlines from last week: ‘What the Fed’s largest interest rate hike in decades means for you’ (PBS.org). ‘Federal Reserve interest rate hike opens new era for economy’ (Washington Post). ‘The Fed delivers biggest rate hike in decades to fight inflation’ (National Public Radio). ‘Fed goes for inflation’s jugular with 75bps rate

How the rebels plan to finish off Boris

45 min listen

In this week’s episode: Is the Prime Minister a dead man walking? Spectator Political Editor James Forsyth and MP Jesse Norman who expressed no confidence in Monday’s vote discuss the future of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. (00:45) Also this week:Why is there so much virtue signalling in modern advertising? Spectator Columnist Lionel Shriver and

Lionel Shriver

Does advertising matter?

‘Stop! Don’t fast-forward. I love this advert!’ How often do you say that? Considering that some commercial breaks run to five minutes, not often enough. How about, ‘Oh no, not again, I can’t stand this advert’? Mm… nightly? According to recent research by the Pull Agency, a brand consultancy, promotion that strains to impress consumers