Seventh Seltzer has done everything he can to break from the traditions of the past, but in his overbearing, narcissistic mother’s last moments, she whispers in his ear the two words he always knew she would: ‘Eat me’.
This is not unusual, as the Seltzers are Cannibal-Americans, a once proud and thriving ethnic group, but for Seventh, it raises some serious questions. Of practical concern, she’s six-foot-two and weighs over thirty stone – even divided up between Seventh and his eleven brothers, that’s a lot of red meat. Plus, Second keeps kosher, Ninth is vegan and Sixth is dead. To make matters worse, even if he can wrangle his brothers together for a feast, the Can-Am people have assimilated, and the only living Cannibal who knows how to perform the ancient ritual is their Uncle Ishmael, a far from reliable guide.
Beyond the practical, Seventh struggles with the sense of guilt and responsibility he feels – to his mother, to his people and to his unique cultural heritage. His mother always taught him he was a link in a chain, stretching back centuries. But he’s getting tired of chains.
Shalom Auslander’s Mother for Dinner is an outrageously tasty comedy about identity and inheritance, the things we owe our families and the things we owe ourselves.