Seventh Seltzer has done everything he can to break from the past, but in his overbearing, narcissistic mother's last moments he is drawn back into the life he left behind. At her deathbed, she whispers in his ear the two words he always knew she would: "Eat me."
... an uncomfortable, sometimes funny satire of hybrid identities and family dynamics ... In Mother for Dinner, identities are arbitrary labels that tell you nothing about the characters and are infinitely interchangeable. It’s clearly meant as a satire of the ways in which race is a social construct, but Auslander avoids the fact that race (among other identities) is a lived reality, and plays the scene only as absurd ... This is the book’s weakness. The Cannibals are at best questionable satire of identity politics, and Auslander frequently appears to dismiss people’s actual lived experiences as arbitrary currencies used in social interactions ... The book’s strength is Auslander’s deft hand with toxic family relationships ... Auslander pursues the conceit through its grotesque stages, and, more movingly, explores Seventh as he moves psychologically from full rejection of his past and identity to passionate defender and advocate ... a deeply uncomfortable novel. At times, it’s funny. At others, it’s a too-accurate examination of family ties. It’s also, very directly, a book about eating human flesh, and everything that might entail. It’s not a book for readers with thin skins or weak stomachs, but it is genuinely engaging, and fans of Auslander who can suppress their gag reflexes will likely enjoy it.
... splenetic riffs on the ingrained human need to search for meaning in ancient customs, no matter how repugnant they are ... The jokes are dependably good ... If Mother for Dinner tickled me less than Hope: A Tragedy it’s partly because its scenes are so physically revolting ... I’m not sure if this will offend pieties or just turn stomachs.
In his latest novel, Auslander...uses his signature dark humor to brilliantly satirize tribalism in America with the story of the Seltzers, a dysfunctional group of 12 siblings attending to the death and disposal of their mother. What makes them unique is the fact that they are Cannibals ... Graphic situations abound; even the characters are revolted, while, through their often ludicrous stories, Auslander explores the sense of otherness and the value of diversity. This could be a portrait of any ethnic group that has been consumed by America, though, in this case, it’s unclear who is devouring whom.