The New Republic by Lionel Shriver

Those familiar with Lionel Shriver’s exceptional yet harrowing best seller We Need to Talk About Kevin will be surprised at her very different novel, The New Republic. This entertaining and witty political satire takes a tongue-in-cheek look at terrorism, journalism and charismatic leaders (not only of nations and movements but in our ordinary lives).

Edgar Kellog has never been popular and has always yearned to have the allure of those he idolises. He gives up his boring life as a New York corporate lawyer to become a journalist and finds himself in the fictional Portuguese backwater of Barba covering the story of its terrorist movement and trying to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of his foreign correspondent predecessor.

The New Republic was actually written in 1998 at a time when, as Shriver puts it, Americans considered terrorism to be a foreigner’s boring problem, so she couldn’t interest a publisher. Then came the success of We Need to Talk About Kevin and the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but still the book wasn’t released – now terrorism was certainly of interest but it was seen as poor taste to deal with it in such a light hearted way. So it’s only now that we are able to enjoy this thoroughly entertaining, fast paced, funny yet all too real look at the power of charisma and what it can make the followers and the followed do.

Review by Andi Lawson-Moore @ Great Escape Books