Nuclear Family

Nuclear Family
Genre : Fiction
Published : 15 Feb 2024 - Borough Press
From the Polari Prize-winning author of IN AT THE DEEP END

When Lena buys DNA testing kits for her father Tom and her twin sister Alison, she thinks they’ll enjoy finding out where their ancestors come from, and what percentage Neanderthal they are. She has no idea the gift will blow her family apart.

Tom is forced to admit that he isn’t his daughters’ biological father: he and his late wife, Sheila, used a sperm donor. He's terrified Lena and Alison will reject him, and desperate to win back their trust – whatever it takes.

Alison thinks DNA doesn’t matter. She and her wife are trying to start a family using donor sperm, too. To her, Tom is their dad, and that’s that.

But Lena becomes obsessed with tracking down their biological father. And when she discovers she has a half-brother – an actor with a blue tick on Instagram – she becomes obsessed with him, too…

From the author of the Polari Prize-winning In at the Deep End, this is a very funny and deeply moving novel about identity, donor conception and what it means to be a family.


With its clever mirroring and inversions, the book's relationships are finely drawn, the dialogue pitch-perfect, and Davies has a well-tuned ear for comic incongruities and striking metaphors. An exhilarating meditation on the meaning of family.

The Bookseller

Filled with wisdom about love, building a family and what makes us who we are, it’s also very very funny (sex swings, Mary Wollstonecraft, sperm donation and DNA websites all have their moment in the sun).

Francesca Brown, Stylist Magazine

Davies writes with a glorious sureness of touch and impeccable comic timing. NUCLEAR FAMILY is funny, poignant, smart and wonderfully, achingly real.

Sarah Waters

A welcome return from one of the freshest voices in fiction. In NUCLEAR FAMILY Kate Davies turns her acute eye on family, identity and belonging, not to mention the mechanics of insemination. I can’t think of another author who can make me ricochet so quickly from painful empathy to helpless laughter.

Erin Kelly

I loved this funny, thoughtful book about what family really means.

Good Housekeeping

I loved this very modern and moving comedy of manners about donor conception, love in all its many forms and what it means to be a family.

Sarra Manning, Red

An engrossing story of ruptured family dynamics, raw and unflinching, painful and hilarious – a complex reflection on love, identity and what makes a family a family.

Joanna Glenn

Provocative and tender.

Kerry Fowler, Sainsburys GoodReads

Davies's 2019 debut IN AT THE DEEP END was one of the funniest novels of that year. This follow up, about what happens when a DNA testing kit ends up blowing a family apart, is just as good a comedy of manners

The i Paper

An amazing and funny read about what family really means.


Davies's confident storytelling blasts open some seriously sensitive subject matter and takes us deftly through the chaos with a winning turn of phrase.

The Times, Book of the Month

Davies delivers a funny, moving novel about reproduction, IVF and biological identity that's packed with explosive emotion and warmed by empathetic understanding.

The Mail on Sunday

Enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Sunday Express

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