Books

Family Politics by John O'Farrell review – a plea to engage with those whose views we abhor

O’Farrell’s latest has more laugh-out-loud gags than the Tory party has had recent leadership campaigns.

The current government having placed itself beyond satire, John O’Farrell aims his literary arrow at the Culture War and the “tolerance” of the left in his latest offering, Family Politics.

When Oxford graduate Dylan moves home to Hastings and asks for a “deep, meaningful chat” with his Labour activist parents, they seize on it as an opportunity to burnish their progressive credentials. But Dylan isn’t gay or trans or a Maoist, he is a Tory; and for Eddie and Emma that places him beyond the pale. As Dylan allies himself with the Conservative candidate standing against Eddie in a high-profile Westminster by-election, domestic carnage ensues. 

Family Politics is a critique of electioneering in the age of social media and a plea for us all to engage with those whose views we abhor. It is saved from preachiness by O’Farrell’s deft touch and more laugh-out-loud gags than the Tory party has had recent leadership campaigns. That O’Farrell chooses to tell the story through the eyes of the conflicted Emma is a risk that pays off. It allows him to poke fun at Eddie – a man who cannot understand why everyone equates Hastings with the Norman Conquest when it is also the setting for The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists

Some people may rail against a novel which punctures the posturing of the left when the right is so much worse. But it is healthy to confront your own foibles. Family Politics provides enough moments of self-recognition to leave the left-leaning reader chuckling until the end. 

Family Politics by John O’Farrell is out 14 March (Doubleday, £20). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!
If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Top 5 books on future tech and video game fiction, chosen by star YA author Triona Campbell
Books

Top 5 books on future tech and video game fiction, chosen by star YA author Triona Campbell

We owe children an apology for the state of the nation, says Caledonian Road author Andrew O'Hagan
Books

We owe children an apology for the state of the nation, says Caledonian Road author Andrew O'Hagan

Top 5 inventive, speculative fiction books – chosen by poet and playwright Joelle Taylor
Books

Top 5 inventive, speculative fiction books – chosen by poet and playwright Joelle Taylor

I wouldn't exist if not for a gruesome mass murder in 1905 – we owe our lives to chance and chaos
Books

I wouldn't exist if not for a gruesome mass murder in 1905 – we owe our lives to chance and chaos

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know