Anansi International

The Family Clause

A Novel

Written by Jonas Hassen Khemiri

Published August 25, 2020 | ISBN 9781487006686
FICTION / Literary

Cover of The Family Clause

Regular price $18.95 CAD

320 pages | 8 in × 5.25 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

The Family Clause

A Novel

Jonas Hassen Khemiri

From acclaimed novelist, essayist, and playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri comes a novel about a family on the verge of collapse.

“The son did as he was told. All his bloody life, he has done as he has been told. Time to change that, he thinks, grabbing a pen. He doesn’t write that this will be the last time his father stays here. He doesn’t write that he wants to break the family clause. Instead, he writes, ‘Welcome, Dad. Hope you had a good flight.’”

A grandfather who lives abroad returns home to visit his adult children. The son is a failure. The daughter is having a baby with the wrong man. Only the grandfather is perfect — at least, according to himself.

But over the course of ten intense days, relationships unfold and painful memories resurface. The grandfather is confronted by his past. The daughter is faced with an impossible choice. The son tries to write himself free. Something has to give. Per a longstanding family agreement, the grandfather has maintained his citizenship by coming to stay with his son every six months. Can this clause be negotiated, or will it chain the family to its past forever?

Through a series of quickly changing perspectives, Jonas Hassen Khemiri evokes an intimate portrait of a chaotic and perfectly normal family, deeply wounded by the death of a child and the disappearance of a father.

About the Author

Jonas Hassen Khemiri

JONAS HASSEN KHEMIRI is the author of five novels, six plays, and a collection of scripts, essays, and short stories. Among his many honours are the August Prize, the highest literary award for Swedish literature; the Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize; the Borås Tidning Award for Best Literary Debut Novel; and an Obie Award. His novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and his six plays have been performed by more than one hundred companies around the world. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Awards and Praise


“I was drawn into this fascinating story right from the beginning and couldn't let loose for days after I had put down The Family Clause. And now, some weeks later, I know I will never forget the grandfather, the son who is a father, the sister, or the girlfriend. They are here to stay in my mind, like those other fictional characters you never meet in real life, but who you would recognize on the street the minute you saw them. Their personalities are far from perfect, but because of that, you love them all the more for who they are.” — Herman Koch, author of The Dinner

The Family Clause vibrates with rueful humour and quiet wisdom. The more you get to know the characters contained within it, the more you see how tremendously large Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s heart must be. His redemptive vision is rare and needed in these dark times.” — Joshua Furst, author of Revolutionaries

“A beautiful study of familial need and mess, in which the universal and the particular play footsie with each other. Deft, artful, but above all insightful till it hurts, this is Khemiri’s best yet.” — Nikita Lalwani, author of The Village

"Khemiri works artfully with the finest tools of realistic prose — small, classic touches put into use by a writer who has never been more skilled. Calling the novel ‘well written’ would be a ridiculous understatement . . . Smart and simple, and with a greatness hidden in the details and in the human patterns that are exposed, The Family Clause is Khemiri’s best novel — and one of the literary year’s brightest highlights.” — Expressen (Sweden)

“Behold the great innovator of Swedish literature, with a unique ability to fill his prose with energy and vigour. I am infinitely impressed by his fifth novel.” — Jönköpings-Posten (Sweden)

“Khemiri’s novel is a subtle uprising, an understated liberation, and a tender defence of the trials of upholding a family. It is full of empathy and humour, and hits close to home.” — Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

The Family Clause is an entertaining and thought-provoking novel written in brilliant language from one of Scandinavia’s most powerful authors.” — Verdens Gang (Norway)

“I cannot remember the last time I read such a good description of contemporary parenthood.” — Vårt Land (Norway)


“This is a wonderful and mysterious book. Close to a journalistic or criminal investigation, every sentence trembles with Khemiri’s electrifying prose. A very original tour de force that still vibrated in my mind long after I had read the last page.” — Herman Koch, author of The Dinner

“Unforgettable. In this non-putdownable puzzle of a story, Khemiri manages to both thrill and break your heart.” — Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success

“With its energetic prose and innovative structure, Everything I Don’t Remember confirms that Jonas Hassen Khemiri is not only one of Sweden’s best authors, but a great talent of our time.” — Vendela Vida, author of The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

“Heartbreakingly sad and laugh-out-loud funny. Its chorus of young drifters, romantics, and cynics stick in the memory, each competing to tell their own truth about Samuel and his tragic death.” — Hari Kunzru, author of Gods Without Men

“An enthralling jigsaw puzzle of a book. Part love story, part reflection on loss, on memory, this smart, one-of-a-kind literary novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking. This is storytelling at its best.” — Jennifer McMahon, author of The Night Sister

“A wonderful exploration of human motivation and why we love, hate, crave, and reject each other. Khemiri writes with an acute sense of perspective and his clean, conceptual prose is gripping from start to finish.” — Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted


“He is one of the foremost authors of his generation. With I Call My Brothers, Khemiri proves that he just gets better and better.” — Sydsvenskan (Sweden)

“With I Call My Brothers, Jonas Hassen Khemiri firmly underscores his position as one of Sweden’s greatest linguistic equilibrists and the cleverest observer of the relationship between identity and society in contemporary literature. Hurray for this!” — Expressen (Sweden)

“This micro-political bomb is an incredibly important contribution to the literary debate that asks what can literature do about inequalities in the world. How can it call to action? Can literature once again climb up on the barricades? Can we begin talking about progressive authors who both write and act politically in the way that Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Duras did during the ideological storms of the last century? We are not yet there. But Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s book is definitely a step in that direction.” — Göteborgs-Posten (Sweden)

“With rhythmic language and often witty formulations this short novel dances forward to a syncopated jazz beat.” — Aftonbladet (Sweden)


“There is a wonderful sense of humour in Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s new book of prose and drama. His ironies are pointed in all directions and undermine our preconceived beliefs.” — Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

“Khemiri has nothing left to prove anymore. Even a book of collected works like this one, which would normally pass by rather unremarkably, feels alive and fresh . . . It shouldn’t be possible to be this good.” — Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

“Khemiri is both blindingly brilliant and insistent with his deceptive, ironic trap doors. He must be the most authentic writer of my generation.” — Sydsvenskan (Sweden)

“Khemiri is a surprising, almost acrobatic wordsmith . . . Invasion! gives a thrilling insight into what is possibly Sweden’s most potent and masterly language laboratory right now.” — Dalademokraten (Sweden)


“Funny, ambitious, and inventive. Also black: rage and tragedy pulse beneath the fireworks . . . A potent chemical mix.” — New York Times Book Review

“A vibrant story of culture, class, and family history enlivened by Khemiri’s subtle wit and voice.” — Publishers Weekly

“You devour it . . . There isn’t a dull moment, it’s bursting with narrative joy.” — Aftonbladet (Sweden)

“It’s smart, hip, and inventive, but at its essence it’s a heart-wrenching work of incredible craftsmanship.” — Sydsvenskan (Sweden)

“A rich tapestry of warm feelings and inexhaustible energy . . . Jonas Hassen Khemiri has once again taken a classic story and twisted it so that light and shadow fall differently than expected.” — Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)


“This bildungsroman about a young man in crisis has the makings of a classic.” — Upsala Nya Tidning (Sweden)

“I can’t remember the last time a novel made me so euphoric.” — Arbetaren (Sweden)

“A joy to read; captivating and in many places sharp and funny.” — Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

One Eye Red is an important debut novel, not just because it fills a void, but because it challenges some of the expectations created by the genre.” — Expressen (Sweden)