Shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year, the ALS Gold Medal, and longlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award.
"Okay, tell me which do you want: to be able to fly or to be invisible?"
What if every now and then, the people in your family woke up with a special power?
Over the span of 30 years we are invited into the secrets of one very unique family, from a mystified teenager to an over-tired night nurse to a conflicted exile.
The surprising strengths they each find show them how to change their lives - and what the family needs in order to survive.
"A wonderful novel: imaginative, intelligent, empathetic... Like a cross between The Corrections and The Slap." - Sydney Morning Herald
"To tell you the narrative concerns a family whose members have superpowers is only to graze the surface of a moving and beautifully realised meditation on what it is to be an ordinary human being." - The Australian
"Grade: A... At once magical and very normal, a wishful fantasy about the strength it can take to love one's family members well." - Entertainment Weekly
Somehow the novel feels at once magical and very normal, a wishful fantasy about the strength it can take to love one's family members well. - Entertainment Weekly
What the Family Needed is a wonderful novel: imaginative, intelligent, empathetic. It's like a cross between The Corrections and The Slap, except without any of the gloom or rage and with the addition of something that may or may not be either a form of magic realism or simply that old staple of the literary art, metaphor. - Sydney Morning Herald
Every now and then, a novel arrives that conveys not only wisdom and understanding but also offers a dose of magic. Part fable, part dreamscape, part family drama, What the Family Needed can be read in several ways. Some of the delight is that nothing is lost in choosing one way over another; in fact, each reading contains all other possible readings. - Courier Mail
Amsterdam has a gift for switching reality about: in his sharp and engaging fiction, life seems ordinary but radically unsettling. It's not even clear what species of fiction we are dealing with... Exhilarating. - The Australian
Strange and marvellous territory... With such a ferocious intelligence and playful curiosity at work here, all we can hope for is to hang on for the ride. - The Monthly
There's something fresh and engaging about Steven Amsterdam's writing - a lightness of touch with some of life's more troubling human scenarios sprinkled with a frisson of other worldliness... Like his 2009 debut Things We Didn't See Coming is packed to the brim with fascinating ideas that play on your mind and characters so vivid they seem to leap from the page... It's a magical concept. - The Australian Women's Weekly
Steven Amsterdam is the award-winning author of THINGS WE DIDN'T SEE COMING (winner of the AGE BOOK OF THE YEAR, shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Award for Fiction and longlisted for The Guardian First Book Award) and WHAT THE FAMILY NEEDED (AWW Great Read and longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC literary award). He lives in Melbourne with his partner where he works as a palliative care nurse.