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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rachel Seiffert's top 10 books about troubled families

Rachel Seiffert is the author of the Booker-shortlisted novel The Dark Room and an acclaimed collection of short stories, Field Study. She was named one of Granta's Best of Young British writers, and one of 25 'women writers to watch' in the Orange Futures promotion. Her most recent novel, Afterwards, is published by Vintage on October 11.Buy Rachel Seiffert books at the Guardian bookshop
All of my books so far have dealt with families, most of them less than ideal. Families are endlessly fascinating: the basic unit of most human societies, we often want to escape our own, create a new, better version, or maybe crave an earlier, lost time when the unit we were in made us happy in a way it just doesn't anymore ... The following books mine this rich seam of humour and pain. All of humanity is here, in miniature (but in no particular order.)

1. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Asher is a gifted artist, born into a Hasidic family in 1940s Brooklyn. His father, Aryeh, works tirelessly for the Rebbe, often travelling into the Soviet Union to aid Jews persecuted by Stalin; while his wife supports this work, she also fears terribly for his safety. Father and son love one another deeply, but their worlds are incompatible. It's a very moving book about how we cannot help but hurt one another.Buy it at the Guardian bookshop

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