Game Control: A Novel
Eleanor Merritt, a do-gooding American family-planning worker, was drawn to Kenya to improve the lot of the poor. Unnervingly, she finds herself falling in love with the beguiling Calvin Piper despite, or perhaps because of, his misanthropic theories about population control and the future of the human race. Surely, Calvin whispers seductively in Eleanor's ear, if the poor are a responsibility they are also an imposition.
Set against the vivid backdrop of shambolic modern-day Africa—a continent now primarily populated with wildlife of the two-legged sort—Lionel Shriver's Game Control is a wry, grimly comic tale of bad ideas and good intentions. With a deft, droll touch, Shriver highlights the hypocrisy of lofty intellectuals who would "save" humanity but who don't like people.
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Game Control is the fifth novel by American author, Lionel Shriver. This novel is set in Kenya in the early 1990s and concerns demographics and AIDs. The main characters are a vengeful misanthrope, Calvin Piper, and a guilty do-gooder, Eleanor Merritt. Eleanor works for a Family Planning agency and encounters the charismatic Piper at various Aid conferences. Despite his provocative and controversial opinions about population control (eg allow infant mortality to increase by stopping vaccination), Eleanor falls in love with Piper. But Piper declares himself incapable of love since the death of his black African mercenary girlfriend, Panga (who haunts his cottage still, offering commentary and opinion). In his genial despair, Piper’s sparring partner on population matters is the morbidly euphoric Wallace Threadgill, a continuing source of optimistic clippings from papers and magazines. When Eleanor accidentally stumbles on Piper’s solution to the population explosion, her love for Piper is tested against her commitment to humanity. In this blackly comic offering, Shriver deftly presents two sides of the population control debate, while illustrating the power of statistics. Shriver’s extensive research is apparent in every paragraph. Brilliant.