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Should We Stay or Should We Go

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What to expect

A best fiction book of 2021 for The Times

‘Hilarious… Fiery phrases spit and crackle. Disgust expands and bursts into belly laughs… a very funny book’ Sunday Times

‘Thought-provoking, timely, and extremely funny’ Metro

‘Shriver said that her favourite novels are those that pack both an intellectual and emotional punch. With Should We Stay or Should We Go, she’s added triumphantly to their number’ The Times

‘Witty and thought-provoking’ Woman’s Weekly

‘I think Shriver’s novels are wonderful… fun, smart and, perhaps because of their author’s unconventional political views, unlike anything else you’ll read’ Financial Times

‘Entertaining and poignant’ Daily Mail

‘Very moving… Shriver has the magic ability to make the reader invested in the fate – fates, I should say – of her characters’Daily Telegraph

‘Wickedly witty’ Spectator

‘Decidedly timely’ Scotsman

‘This sharp-elbowed satire is also a brusquely tender portrait of enduring love’ Washington Post

Determined to die with dignity, Kay and her husband Cyril – both healthy and vital medical professionals in their early fifties – make a pact: to commit suicide together once they’ve both turned eighty.

A lot can change in thirty years, however…

By turns hilarious and touching, playful and grave, Should We Stay or Should We Go portrays twelve parallel universes, each exploring a possible future for Kay and Cyril. Do they honour their agreement? And if not, will they live to regret it?

Critics Review

  • ‘An acerbically funny thought experiment… A contrarian on the page as well as in real life, Shriver is on fine form here, messing with her character’s lives while asking the big questions about mortality with a rigorous lack of sentimentality’ The Times

    ‘There’s something bracing about reading a novelist so admirably heartless, watching her pull the legs off her characters again and again… I think Shriver’s novels are wonderful… fun, smart and, perhaps because of their author’s unconventional political views, unlike anything else you’ll read’ Financial Times

    ‘A work of undeniable moral seriousness, yet one that’s never just a series of (admittedly juicy) discussion points. Even the most fantastical outcomes are envisaged with exhilarating thoroughness — while Cyril and Kay remain the same richly conceived characters throughout. Despite the grimness of the premise, the book also offers the stirring sight of a writer clearly enjoying herself’ The Times

    ‘It’s hideous — but also hilarious. Through the potent spell of Shriver’s language, horror gets alchemised into amusement. Fiery phrases spit and crackle. Disgust expands and bursts into belly laughs… a very funny book’ Sunday Times

    ‘After a (pun intended) deathly start, Shriver’s typically provocative novel manages to be both entertaining and poignant, with the novelist even poking fun at herself as she questions what makes a good innings. It might (almost) be a beach read’ Daily Mail

    ‘Shriver uses a ‘parallel universe’ structure to explore various outcomes – and somehow makes conversations about death feel far from taboo’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Some books become so popular that the lucky author can thereafter churn out any old cobblers, confident in the knowledge that it will be published and find an audience. Lionel Shriver never took that easy route’ Irish Independent

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