Belfast Telegraph

Author’s generous legacy to beloved Belfast libraries

By Adrian Rutherford

A prize-winning author has revealed how she intends to bequeath her money to libraries in the Belfast area to help inspire a new generation of book-lovers.

American novelist Lionel Shriver lived in Belfast for 12 years during the Troubles and fell in love with the city.

Shriver, whose works include the best-selling We Need To Talk About Kevin, became a regular visitor to her local library on the Lisburn Road.

And such was the impact that those years made on her life, she now intends leaving her belongings to the Belfast Education and Library Board.

“The benefits of libraries are obvious,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

“But it’s not just the overwhelming arguments for access to books and other information.

“Libraries inculcate better reading habits.

“If you buy a book, you feel compelled to read it, even if you don’t like it after page 10.

“If you take six books out of the library, you will only read the ones you like, and then you’ll go back for more and do the same with them.

“You read more widely and more voraciously and become more discerning when you’re a regular library user. I firmly believe that.”

Shriver came to Belfast to research her third novel, The Bleeding Heart, but was so taken with life here that she stayed to pen books four, five and six as well.

“The difference between Belfast and the other cities is that I stayed so long,” she added.

“I even left at one point, but had to go back. It felt like home. Even now, when I visit, it feels like home. I’m always happy as a clam there.”

Shriver was not a well-known author while living in Northern Ireland but she burst on to the literary scene in 2003 after the success of We Have To Talk About Kevin.

The novel won Shriver the 2005 Orange Prize, a UK-based prize for female authors of any nationality writing in English.


Born Margaret Ann Shriver in May 1957 in North Carolina to a deeply religious family. she changed her name to Lionel at the age of 15. She was educated at Barnard College, Columbia University. Lionel has lived in Nairobi, Bangkok and Belfast, and currently lives in London. She won the 2005 Orange Prize for her best-selling novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Belfast Telegraph

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