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REVIEW | Mother for Dinner by Shalom Auslander

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Shalom Auslander and the cover of Mother for Dinner. (Photo: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Corbis via Getty Images)
Shalom Auslander and the cover of Mother for Dinner. (Photo: Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Corbis via Getty Images)

Have a strong stomach? An interest in those stories that go as far as possible beyond the quotidian, into territory marked ‘not for sensitive readers’, ‘not for the faint-hearted’ and likely being categorized as being in ‘bad taste’? Yearning for a literary novel seasoned with enough shocks to the system that a choir of Karens would be sent running for the hills? Yay to all of the above? Look no further than Shalom Auslander’s oh-so-tasty Mother for Dinner.

A small minority might decry this fascinating, ferociously funny farce as a gross disappointment, as being incendiary, pointless, overcooked, crass and rather disgusting, a narrative in all kinds of poor taste. Rather, for the more refined palette, a poignant, powerful family saga dealing with the encumbrances of familial expectation and loyalty, the weight of history, tribalism, disenfranchisement, and, perhaps most obviously and importantly, cannibal identity politics sears the page.

Cutting, black humor meets surprisingly sweet, tender observations about modern life. The context of outrage culture, cultural appropriation debates, and questions of inheritance, legacy and identity couldn’t be more topical right now. 

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