Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters

Nuclear Family A Tragicomic Novel in Letters 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 lett

  • Title: Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters
  • Author: Susanna Fogel
  • ISBN: 9781627797931
  • Page: 417
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 fashiFrom 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.

    One thought on “Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters”

    1. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, but the humor is always grounded in the kind of family dynamics we can all relate to. I had read some of the letters contained here in The New Yorker, and loved them there, but when read together as a tragicomic novel, their impact is deeper and funnier for it. You'll tear through it, and then you'll probably want to give it to someone in your own nuclear family.

    2. 4.5 starsI love a good epistolary novel, so was thrilled to win this book as a giveaway. Thank you to and the publisher. An honest review was requested.Although it is billed as "a tragicomic novel," I found it more comic than tragic. This is a very charming and witty novel that takes the heroine, Julie, from early adolescence all the way through her mid-30's, dealing with a bizarre and diverse family, as well as her own career struggles and romantic foibles. Julie's mom was particularly endear [...]

    3. Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters by Susanna Fogel is a very highly recommended, hilarious, wonderfully quirky, entertaining debut novel. I loved and adored it!This epistolary novel is a collection of letters/emails written to Julie by her dysfunctional, fractured Jewish family, as well as a few surprising sources that don't normally write letters. We never actually hear directly from Julie, but we meet her through what her family has written to her. The letters begin when Julie is a [...]

    4. I am a big fan of epistolary novels (aka books written in the form of a series of letters, emails, etc), as I find them to be quick and easy reads, and this book was in fact that. There is decent character development through the series of communication between mostly family and some friends with one central character (the only character who I feel the author failed to develop), and the story is both humorous yet relatable. The only parts I could have done without were the letters from inanimate [...]

    5. I'm usually wary of epistolary novels - in the back of my head, English lit canon snoozefests loom large. No worries about that here, as the novel is both good and an excellent use of the form - I don't think the same story could have been told this well any other way. Nuclear Family is thoroughly modem and consistently funny. It builds really well, using a number of different narrators (live, dead and inanimate) to advance the stories and characters, each imbued with a unique voice. Definitely [...]

    6. I’m so glad I took a chance on this debut novel! It was a thoroughly entertaining read, the funniest book I’ve read in a long time. I’ve always liked epistolary books, and it somehow was even more fun only reading one side of the correspondence and trying to fill in the blanks for the main character. The book had a great cast of characters, sometimes stereotypical, but with an original twist here and there. This was a refreshing change of pace for me, and I highly recommend the book.

    7. I am so, so glad that won this book in a giveaway! I laughed out loud for the first time on the third page, and burst out into sporadic fits of giggling throughout the rest of it. Fogel writes with such sardonic humor— and each of the characters in the family (including the elusive Julie, our never heard from protag who we simultaneously feel a kinship to and as though we are her, which is a lovely combo that is difficult to pull off; Fogel did it very nicely) has their own quirks, neuroses, [...]

    8. This novel is told entirely through letters to Julie from her family and some, uh, not family. We hear from her oblivious, condescending father, well-meaning and passive-aggressive mother, hot cousin, gun-happy sister who is leap-frogging across retail jobs, her mother's bitchy goddaughter, her grandmothers, and so many more who have wisdom to share. You track Julie's life (very quickly) through her childhood, college years, early adulthood in LA, and into her late thirties, through her failures [...]

    9. My goodness, this book is incredible! It's an epistolary where you learn about the life of the protagonist, Julie, from her family, close family friends, and a few unusual items and characters (like her boyfriend's dog and her IUD).The most impressive aspect of Fogels' writing is that she masterfully evokes specific voices for each character. Most writers slap a new character name on a letter and think that's enough, but Fogel manages to make each letter have a very specific character voice and [...]

    10. Just finished reading Nuclear Family, by Susanna Fogel. I received a free copy of a proof of the book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for a review on that site. Had to add one here. Just because. Because this book is just so effing FUNNY. It's an epistolary novel (which I like) done really well. Told entirely in letters, notes and emails from family and others (including certain dead and/or inanimate writers), we never hear directly from Julie, to whom all of the correspon [...]

    11. This book is a collection of letters/emails/messages that the fictional Julie Fellers has received over the course of 3 decades. What makes this book unique is that the reader never gets to see Julie respond directly to her family. Oh, and sometimes the letters aren't from her family but from her long-forgotten dead gerbil or her birth control device. (Yes, that sounds weird, but trust me those letters are just as hilarious as the ones from family.)This book is perfect for when you want a good l [...]

    12. Hilarious novel about a family just like yours.Nuclear Family is a collection of letters and emails to Julie from her teenage years to her 30s from her loved ones. There are letters from her over serious father, her oversharing mother and her free-spirited sister. More unusual are letters from her boyfriend's dog, her teenage Nordic Track and her IUD.It took me about an hour to find this book funny. I think you have to be familiar with the characters first. However, after that I found myself fre [...]

    13. I won an ARC of this book from . So glad I did. It's fascinating. I did not want to put this book down, beginning to end. The first 30-some odd years of a woman's life told through correspondence her family (and sometimes inanimate objects or dead people) send her. From a narcissistic father, guilt trip mother, adopted sister, and miscellaneous others we learn about Julie's life and that of her family. I could relate to having a lot of family members that match with her family's characteristics. [...]

    14. Told entirely in letters and e-mails to Julie Feller, from her teen years through her 30's, from her mom, dad, step-mom, sister, half-brother, cousins, friends, boyfriends, and even the gerbil she accidentally drowned when she was 10, the lonely Nordic Track in her father's office, her IUD, and the container of Sabra hummus at her grandmother's deathbed. I laughed so hard it might have impaired my driving! Not sure if it would have been as enjoyable in print because the 12 narrators on the audio [...]

    15. I read this short novel-in-letters as a kind of palate cleanser. I needed a breather from some of the intense stuff that has been sitting in my stack this fall. And, indeed, this book is a really light, funny story of a vaguely dysfunctional Jewish family. I enjoyed it.BUT -- here's the thing. When you make fun of your self or your own community, it's one thing. The abundant stereotypes of Jewish people don't feel too heavy in this author's hands. But one of the main characters is Chinese, and t [...]

    16. 3.5 stars. Charming, heartwarming, and funny. Downsides were that I felt tempted to skim over certain letters and didn't finish the novel with a great sense of who the characters were aside from their comedic quirks. Even so, a refreshing read for me since I've had so many serious books to read the past few months. It was nice to laugh out loud but now back to the dark and brooding stuff.

    17. I found myself not only laughing out loud at certain lines, but sharing them with others because I identified with them. The most intriguing part of the book was never hearing from the protagonist directly. The reader has to imagine her response to all the letters she (and we) is reading, without ever being sure of it.An enjoyable read that simultaneously offers comedy and cringe-worthy truths about family.

    18. I received an advanced copy of this book and I'm actually grateful for that. This is not a book I would have looked at in a store and thought "oh this looks interesting."I'd have been a foolish, foolish person not to try this book.It's full of humor and self deprecation. I know the narrators father (type) I've seen in several people throughout my life.I recommend that anyone read this book. It's funny with out being jokey "hahahaha" laugh track funny.

    19. Fogel's novel is excellent. I enjoyed the letter format - we learn so much about our protagonist through the letters she receives from others and yet at the end, what do we really know about her? It's fascinating. It's amazing to me how she was able to give all her characters such depth and nuance in this format, and in so few pages! I really enjoyed this one, and look forward to more from Susanna Fogel!

    20. Funny, light, imaginative reading allowing us to catch several different glimpses into one woman's life. This story is told through letters, from family members, creepy friends of the family, and even some inanimate objects. It's imaginative and unique, not quite like anything I've ever read. A pleasant, fast read. Just a little too light and fast for me. (Although probably more of a 3.5 star book than a 3.)

    21. I won this book as a part of giveaways. I wasn't sure how much I'd like the letters-to-a-person-you-don't-really-meet style, but it worked really well! The book was pretty funny and created a character that you could empathize with without ever hearing her speak. It was a quick, enjoyable read!

    22. Quick, satisfying read. It is the perfect “away for your anniversary weekend” read. The endorsement on the back by Simon Rich is what prompted me to give it a try. I can see why he would lend his support. It is written very much in his style. He’s funnier, by far, but this is an impressive debut to be sure.

    23. This book was a truly wonderful read. It made me literally laugh out loud, and even brought tears to my eyes. I loved how complicated, flawed and human the characters were--in addition to being extremely funny. The story is cleverly told in a series of letters, as a relatable and moving family saga unfolds. I highly recommend this book, and it's also a great gift book!

    24. I laughed out loud several times during this book, and I don't do that often with books. I could relate to so many facets of the story. I think the main character's mother's messages and attempts to master cyberspace were my favorite parts.

    25. *2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge - a book of letters*This book was laugh out loud hilarious. I especially loved the sister and the mother characters. Received ARC from for review purposes: Thanks!

    26. This book is one of my favorite humor novels so far this year. I am so glad I got the chance to read it and enjoy all the troubles, truths, and fun included in the story told here.I really wish I could have had my family read this and enjoy it as much as I did.

    27. *I won a free copy of an advanced edition of this book* I thought that this book was charming and very funny. I absolutely loved the letters from Julie's immediate family. I thought that they were ridiculous, but not so much that they weren't believable.

    28. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! It's not Ulysses, but it's been a long time since I laughed so hard. Insightful and inventive approach that any one with a "modern family" can relate to ;)

    29. Absolutely LOVED This book was so funny and such an easy read that I just blasted through it. I love that the setting is local and I feel like I know these people.

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