Harper Collins £14.99

The New Republic, By Lionel Shriver

We need to talk about terror

Most of us have transformative stages in our professional lives that we gloss over on our CVs; stages when we were still learning our trade. The New Republic comes from one such period in the career of Lionel Shriver.

It is a farcical satire on the politics of terrorism that she wrote between Double Fault and her blockbuster, We Need to Talk About Kevin. (Double Fault was published in 1996 in the US but not until 2007 here, four years after the release of Kevin, when it was met with favourable reviews – which may be why Shriver thought it a good idea to dip again into her back-catalogue of unreleased affairs.)

In an author's note at the start, she writes: "The New Republic was completed in 1998. At that time, my sales record was poisonous. Perhaps more importantly, my American compatriots largely dismissed terrorism as Foreigners' Boring Problem. I was unable to interest an American publisher in the manuscript. For years after the calamity in New York [of 9/11], I was obliged to put the novel on ice, because a book that treated this issue with a light touch would have been perceived as in poor taste."

Rather than indignation at her compatriots' lack of interest pre-9/11 and po-facedness after it, Shriver should have taken more note of those publishers' indifference for what is some remarkably flat writing. Perhaps even more grievous to British readers is a tin ear for our dialect that would have shamed even Dick Van Dyke: "When you're flush, you sort out that you right fancy stuff that's dirt cheap. Like bangers and beans – which is yards better with mealy-mouthed forty-nine-P sausages than the posh sort with walnuts." Gor blimey, guv.

It's a shame, because the novel's premise is intriguing: Edgar Kellogg, a lawyer-turned-journalist, is sent to cover a god-forsaken region at the southern tip of Portugal, where a terrorist group is campaigning for "freedom" with indiscriminate bombings. Kellogg is there to replace the larger-than-life Barrington Saddler, who has, suspiciously, gone missing. But the conceit is let down by unconvincing characters whose idiosyncrasies seem driven by the plot rather than drivers of it. The novel is overwritten, overlong and overly pleased with a twist that is telegraphed so unsubtly that it's hard to get excited about it.

In short, The New Republic is a drag, and it should have been left well alone in Shriver's personal, unpublished archives.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before