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The Family Clause Reviews

The Family Clause by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Alice Menzies (Translator)

The Family Clause

Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Alice Menzies (Translator)

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Harvill Secker
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 16 Jul 2020
ISBN: 9781787301139

An addictive novel about contemporary parenthood and modern family life.

4 stars out of 5
23 Sep 2020

"A complex portrait of a family, ordinary and strange,"

Jonas Hassan Khemiri’s The Family Clause is an excellent example of this genre. Exquisitely translated by Alice Menzies, this novel by a significant Swedish author and playwright is deceptively simple. It is narrated over ten days, each day a new section. The first day presents the return of a “grandfather” – who now spends time in his “old country” for several months at a stretch – and his interactions with his two children: a professionally successful daughter who is also a divorced mother and estranged from her son; and a far less successful son with a family showing signs of strain under the pressures of parental care.


4 stars out of 5
Boyd Tonkin
1 Aug 2020

"his fifth novel, offers much more than satire or sociology"

Shuttling between viewpoints, Khemiri’s prose has a zing and bite stylishly served by Alice Menzies’s pacy, idiomatic translation. If those abstract labels (‘a son who is a father’ etc) suggest some solemn archetypal conflict à la Strindberg, then the gleeful ferocity of close-up observation — from the poo-smeared ‘war zone’ of infant mealtimes to the panic-inducing plenty of late-night supermarket aisles — yank us down to modern earth. As for the old man — ‘He was born grumpy and he’ll die grumpy.’ In the meantime, the cantankerous self-regard that keeps him afloat lends The Family Clause an epic, as well as a comic, buoyancy.