The Middlesteins: A Novel

Editorial reviews

The Middlesteins: A Novel

In its compassionate account of ordinary unhappiness, and of our hunger to make connections, it will leave readers satisfied.

Attenberg writes well, with economy and a welcome lack of sentimentality, but after finishing this novel one is left numb – rather like a binge eater feasting and gorging, only to feel empty when it’s all gone.

The Middlesteins calls back to Richard Ford’s untidy domestic dramas, which spill out into the streets beyond. In this book, the promise of the nuclear family isn’t enough to hold the center, but it appeals to the view that community can bind tighter than blood.

With The Middlesteins she’s been adventurous in subject matter and the way she depicts her older characters. With the next one, I hope she’ll take a huge leap into the unknown and do something really exciting with language.

So you’re never asked to feel sorry for anyone (not that they don’t feel plenty sorry for themselves), and as a result the book isn’t merely a delight to read: It lifts you up.

Thanks to Attenberg's sure-handed prose, this agile narrative swiftly moves around in time and perspectives, offering a sizable portrait of this extended family's varying successes and failures at forging lasting connections.

Humor and pain are sharp and inseparable in Jami Attenberg’s new novel, The Middlesteins, a darkly comic saga of a middle-class Jewish family in suburban Chicago.

The Middlesteins is a tender, sad and funny look at a family and their mother. In fact, it's so readable, it's practically edible.

The Middlesteins embodies the idea that we don’t choose our families, and that, if anything, that lack of choice stains our relationships, constantly making us question and validate our connections to one another.

With pitch-perfect prose, huge compassion, and sly humor, Jami Attenberg has given us an epic story of marriage, family, and obsession.

With a wit that never mocks and a tenderness that never gushes, she renders this family’s ordinary tragedies as something surprisingly affecting.

Kirkus Reviews : The Middlesteins (September 01, 2012)

A sharp-tongued, sweet-natured masterpiece of Jewish family life.