Lionel Shriver: Libraries are expressions of social generosity

PhotoAfter all the anticipation and, let’s be frank here, anxiety around the Lionel Shriver interview that I have been badgering all of you with for weeks now, I am delighted to say that it was great!

Lionel and I chatted in the cosy little library at her hotel and, over cups of coffee, it felt to me like all the bookish chats that I have ever had with any of my dear friends. Part of the reason for this is that Shriver is unambiguously a library lover. This is very clear in the audio clip below which you should listen  to as it will lift your spirits, warm the cockles of your heart and get your toes tapping – enough with all the body parts already.

At the end of the interview, Shriver drifted off to TV One (see her  interview on Breakfast) and I floated down Queen Street on cloud nine certain that she would rather be chatting to a librarian. Good on us!

There will be a fuller blog on this interview in a later post, but in the meantime, kick back with the audio clip and smile!

13 thoughts on “Lionel Shriver: Libraries are expressions of social generosity

  1. tewp 14 May 2010 / 12:01 pm

    That is terrific Roberta. I had though Lionel S. would be a quite forbidding no nonsense character so it’s nice to know she feels so passionate about our profession.

  2. Sarah 14 May 2010 / 12:35 pm

    That’s great Roberta! So pleased to hear it went really well 🙂 Loving your posts, and looking forward to reading the full post.

    • Roberta Smith 14 May 2010 / 10:15 pm

      Hi Sarah, I am bursting with stories, only some of which can be fitted onto the blog. If you see me approaching in the corridor, my advice is – hide!

      • Roberta Smith 14 May 2010 / 10:16 pm

        Also, how do I get smiley faces onto my posts?

  3. Jane 14 May 2010 / 2:04 pm

    I have read all of Lional Shrivers books (except this last one which I haven’t felt compelled to read). So far every book has had delightfully dreadful characters. They are always interesting, and I assume that she just finds these type of people a sastisfying writing experience, or is there a darker aspect that lurks behind her need to write about the unlikable Roberta?

  4. helen 14 May 2010 / 2:16 pm

    Stunning picture! very interesting to hear Lional Shriver’s comments on libraries.

    • Roberta Smith 14 May 2010 / 2:57 pm

      Wait til you read her comments on Book Groups!

  5. joyciescotland 14 May 2010 / 3:56 pm


    Is Lionel wrinkly? I’ve heard she bangs on about how youthful she looks, and is thus not taken sufficiently seriously. So I’m torn between hoping she has a face like a bag of spanners or that she has indeed drunk from the fountain of yoof, and is not a big fibber. Put my tortured mind at ease!

    • robertafsmith 14 May 2010 / 6:06 pm

      Hi Joycie, I’m not exactly sure how old Lionel is but she does look very good. This is partly because she is quite petite with a whippet like body, partly because she has a very calm, focused demeanor and the rest is probably down to good genes. The truth though is that I am no longer unbiased in my opinion as she was such a delight to interview that I have become a fan.

      Do you know a Josie who used to be an NLA? She is Dalrymple’s minder at the festival and works in publishing. If you know her, she sends her regards.

  6. Allison 14 May 2010 / 7:47 pm

    She’s 52! According to one interview I read she ‘would not be confused with a ray of sunshine’. Your impression of her sounds much warmer.

    Did you find out why she took a man’s name? Can’t be the old George Eliot routine.

    Love the pic! And the interviewer’s outfit! Très chic!

    • Roberta Smith 14 May 2010 / 10:11 pm

      She changed her name from Margaret Ann (I think) when she was 12 years old – mainly to annoy her father I gather. We got on really well. She is serious and focused, but she does listen and really makes an effort to answer the questions.I liked her so much , I was sad to part from her – was tempted to give her a hug but managed to control myself.The interview transcript should be up soon and an audio clip on book clubs from the same interview. Great to connect with you like this.

      • Roberta Smith 14 May 2010 / 10:21 pm

        Do you recognise the African animal carving necklace I bought on the way to Jozini?

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