About this book
The Family Clause
Jonas Hassen Khemiri • Alice Menzies
From acclaimed Swedish author Jonas Hassen Khemiri comes a novel about a family on the verge of collapse.
A grandfather who lives abroad returns home to Sweden to visit his adult children. His son is a failure. His daughter is having a baby with the wrong man. Only the grandfather himself is perfect — in his own eyes, at least.
Over the course of ten intense days, relationships unfold and painful memories resurface. The grandfather confronts his past. The daughter faces an impossible choice. The son tries to write himself free. Something has to give. According to a long-standing family agreement, the grandfather has maintained his Swedish citizenship by coming to stay with his son in Stockholm 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’s The Family Clause intimately portrays a chaotic and perfectly normal family, one deeply wounded by the death of a child and the disappearance of a father.
About the Creators
Jonas Hassen Khemiri
JONAS HASSEN KHEMIRI is the author of five novels, six plays, and a collection of essays, plays, and short stories. Among his many honours are the August Prize, the highest award for Swedish literature; the Per Olov Enquist Literary Prize; the Borås Tidning Award for Best 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.
ALICE MENZIES is a freelance translator based in London. She has translated books by Fredrik Backman and Katarina Bivald, among others.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR JONAS HASSEN KHEMIRI AND THE FAMILY CLAUSE
Finalist, National Book Award for Translated Literature
“Exquisitely translated by Alice Menzies, this novel by a significant Swedish author and playwright is deceptively simple. It is narrated over ten days, each day a new section. The first day presents the return of a ‘grandfather’ — who now spends time in his ‘old country’ for several months at a stretch — and his interactions with his two children: a professionally successful daughter who is also a divorced mother and estranged from her son, and a far less successful son with a family showing signs of strain under the pressures of parental care … The Family Clause ranges from the parodic to the sentimental to the tragic without ever hitting a false note. This flexibility of register is essential to a narrative about this web of relations, with its various embedded traumas, delights, and absurdities.” —Tabish Khair, Times Literary Supplement
“I was drawn into The Family Clause right from the beginning and couldn't let it go for days after I had put it down. 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 whom 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
“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 Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s best yet.” — Nikita Lalwani, author of The Village
“A bold and remarkable novel — a marvel of form and imagination that is also miraculously full of heart and compassion.” — Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names
“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
“Satisfying … Khemiri succeeds at creating an infectious sense of melancholia as the poisonous patriarch is forced to reckon with the truth. In a slow build of quotidian moments, Khemiri constructs a familiarly flawed universe that lays bare what it means to be human.” — Publishers Weekly
“This nuanced, dryly hilarious novel is a sharply observed window into modern family dynamics.” — Globe and Mail
“Khemiri’s prose has a zing and bite stylishly served by Alice Menzies’ pacy, idiomatic translation.” — Spectator
- Short-listed National Book Award for Translated Literature,