I think I’m on to Lionel Shriver’s secret: timing, research – and sharp story-telling doesn’t hurt either.
She taps into the single fear that is uppermost in the nation’s mind and crafts a story that drags that fear into an extreme reality. Afraid your kid is going to go postal? Shriver’s got a book for that. Worried that your financial resources will be depleted by a bout of cancer? She’s got a novel for that too.
Right now the middle classes are scared that the ongoing financial crisis will render them destitute by the time they hit retirement age, and right on cue the Shriver literary machine pops out a book about a moderately wealthy family that finds itself increasingly less wealthy as the US economy crashes and the encumbent government decides (unwisely) to default on its international debts.