Mother for Dinner

Shalom Auslander

01 October 2020
414 pages


‘Extremely funny, weirdly touching and acute about families’ Guardian
‘Daring, provocative and controversial . . . a work of genius’ – Scotsman
‘Terrifically funny . . . Close-to-the-knuckle farce with a big beating heart’Daily Mail

Seventh Seltzer has done everything he can to break from the traditions of the past, but in his overbearing, narcissistic mother’s last moments, she whispers in his ear the two words he always knew she would: ‘Eat me’.

This is not unusual, as the Seltzers are Cannibal-Americans, a once proud and thriving ethnic group, but for Seventh, it raises some serious questions. Of practical concern, she’s six-foot-two and weighs over thirty stone – even divided up between Seventh and his eleven brothers, that's a lot of red meat. Plus, Second keeps kosher, Ninth is vegan and Sixth is dead. To make matters worse, even if he can wrangle his brothers together for a feast, the Can-Am people have assimilated, and the only living Cannibal who knows how to perform the ancient ritual is their Uncle Ishmael, a far from reliable guide.

Beyond the practical, Seventh struggles with the sense of guilt and responsibility he feels – to his mother, to his people and to his unique cultural heritage. His mother always taught him he was a link in a chain, stretching back centuries. But he’s getting tired of chains.

Shalom Auslander's Mother for Dinner is an outrageously tasty comedy about identity and inheritance, the things we owe our families and the things we owe ourselves.

The new book by the author of Hope: A Tragedy – ‘the funniest novel of the decade’ Sunday Times

Bad taste has a purpose in this outrageous satire . . . grotesque, extremely funny, weirdly touching and acute
Daring, provocative and controversial . . . the outrageous nature of the comedy is done perfectly . . . This is a work of genius.
Prize for premise of the year . . . a terrifically funny book . . . Close-to-the-knuckle farce with a big beating heart