Bad taste has a purpose in this outrageous satire on tribalism, family relationships and the weight of history

In his new novel, Shalom Auslander applies his satirical scalpel to the delicate issues of identity politics. And anyone who has read Auslander before will know that when I say “applies his satirical scalpel”, I mean something more like “tosses a hand-grenade and runs away laughing”.

The protagonist of Mother for Dinner is Seventh Seltzer: loving husband, father of a young daughter, and a publisher’s reader in New York who is weary of the cynically pious turn in his industry towards foregrounding marginal voices. The manuscripts he sifts through are all, he complains to himself, “another tedious version of what he had taken of late to calling the Not-So-Great Something-American Novel. It was all anyone wrote these days, and all Rosenbloom, his boss, cared to publish.”

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