Arachnide Editions

A Family Affair

Written by Nadine Bismuth • Translated by Russell Smith

Published August 25, 2020 | ISBN 9781487007027
FICTION / Literary

Cover of A Family Affair

Regular price $22.95 CAD

320 pages | 8 in × 5.25 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book

A Family Affair

Nadine Bismuth • Russell Smith

A wry, savvy novel of untidy modern relationships, A Family Affair confirms award-winning author Nadine Bismuth’s place as a remarkable chronicler of contemporary middle-class mores in the manner of Jonathan Franzen, John Irving, and Lorrie Moore.

Award-winning novelist and screenwriter for film and television Nadine Bismuth has returned with an unsparing portrait of twenty-first century life. In A Family Affair, love is the first casualty and deceit — towards others, towards oneself — the norm.

Kitchen designer Magalie is being cheated upon and so cheats in turn, in the office and with a divorced policeman who has hired her. Her partner, Mathieu, has no idea how to be, and the policeman Guillaume no idea what he wants. So begins a story of messy relationships wrested against the odds from the detritus of failed marriages, the demands of professional lives, and the pull of the internet and its false messages of perfection. With an assiduous eye that is both clinical and sympathetic, Bismuth’s elegant and highly readable novel captures the alienating nature of contemporary life and sheds light on this, our strange new world full of unrequited yearning in a sea of seeming plenty.

About the Creators

Nadine Bismuth

NADINE BISMUTH is the author of the prize-winning story collection Fidelity Doesn’t Make the News and two previous novels, Scrapbook and Are You Married to a Psychopath?, the latter of which was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award. She has written for film and television. Nadine Bismuth was born and lives in Montreal.

Russell Smith

RUSSELL SMITH is a writer, journalist, and translator. The author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction, his most recent novel, Confidence, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His work has also been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Trillium Prize, the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Toronto Book Awards, and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. He also writes a weekly column on arts for the Globe and Mail. A Family Affair is his first book-length translation.

Awards and Praise


Finalist, Radio-Canada Combat national des livres

“The author who accustomed us to the lies and neuroses of young adults now leads us into the world of forty-somethings, in which infidelity must somehow be managed in lives weighed down by work, shared custody, and hours online . . . Despite a generous helping of Bismuth’s typically dark humour, a disturbing melancholy permeates A Family Affair.” — La Presse

“A page-turner. I read it in one go . . . There is something frankly endearing in this portrait of the modern family. A book you will devour because Nadine Bismuth writes with an extraordinary, honest, accessible, evocative pen.” — Radio-Canada

“A keen and lucid exploration of the mirages of love and motherhood.” — Le Devoir

“Nadine Bismuth, in a very contemporary style and with a distinctly Quebecois sense of humour, presents us her vision of relationships between men, women, children, parents. Under the heated floor of a hi-tech granite kitchen, she hides nothing. No, but she shatters the lid of that old cast iron casserole, confronting us with our contradictions and reminding us that it is never too late to start afresh, other than we are, elsewhere.” — ActuaLitté

“Bismuth writes page-turners, frankly and accessibly. Once started, you cannot stop. In A Family Affair, we are witnesses to ordinary lives turned upside-down . . . the reader becomes a voyeur, and can’t help but enjoy it . . . Bismuth writes with a sharp and addictive pen, and we devour her recounting of the everyday as if it were a crime thriller.” — Le fil rouge

“What with [Bismuth’s] last short-story collection, Are You Married to a Psychopath?, dating back to 2009, there is no doubt: Nadine Bismuth’s new work has been highly anticipated. In her novel A Family Affair, she revamps her favorite subjects: infidelity and, also, the complexities and ambiguities of love. What a pleasure it is to be reacquainted with her assiduous eye, her sense of humour, her gentle irony.” — Les libraires

“Sometimes from a man’s point of view, sometimes from a woman’s, Bismuth presents the questions and challenges forty-somethings face. The writing is fluid, the story captivating, and the turns in the plot admirably constructed.” — Page par page


Finalist, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction


Winner, Prix de l’Association des librairies du Québec

Winner, Adrienne-Choquette Literary Prize