Despite winning multiple awards, Swedish author Jonas Hassen Khemiri is largely unknown to English speaking readers. A shame. Only one other of his books is available via Kindle, and several others only in high priced print editions. His mastery of language is apparent, given his reputation as a playwright. And if this book is any indication, he should have a wider audience.
The course of Family Clause, spooling out over a week's visit from "a father who is a grandfather," follows a family's history. No names (as in Milkman, but here, more accessible). The son who is a father is on paternity leave. The sister who is a daughter is pregnant with the wrong man. And so it goes. I have never seen family life so well delineated, so precise. Life with the one year old, the four year old, minutes described so clearly and visibly. Without sentimentality but with affection and deep underlying love. Everyone is given a point of view, even one who has departed. We get to know this family from the inside out in a way seldom experienced via a novel. The closest are the family sagas by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Finally, Kudos to Alice Menzies for the fine translation.