From filmmaker and New Yorker contributor Susanna Fogel comes a comedic novel about a fractured family of New England Jews and their discontents, over the course of three decades. Told entirely in letters to a heroine we never meet, we get to know the Fellers through their check-ins with Julie: their thank-you notes, letters of condolence, family gossip, and good old-fashioned familial passive-aggression.
Together, their missives – some sardonic, others absurd, others heartbreaking – weave a tapestry of a very modern family trying (and often failing) to show one another they care.
The titular “Nuclear Family” includes, among many others:
A narcissistic former-child-prodigy father who has taken up haiku writing in his old age and his new wife, a traditional Chinese woman whose attempts to help her stepdaughter find a man include FedExing her silk gowns from Filene’s Basement.
Their six-year-old son, Stuart, whose favorite condiment is truffle oil and who wears suits to bed.
Julie’s mother, a psychologist who never remarried but may be in love with her arrogant Rabbi and overshares about everything, including the threesome she had with Dutch grad students in 1972.
“Fogel’s novel offers plenty of glimpses—both humorous and endearing—into the life of a single woman with a well-meaning, if clueless, family.”
“Politically incorrect, but u prob won’t mind b/c other parts are so funny.”
“Sharp, funny, and painful. Just like your actual family.”