The White Family

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The White Family
First edition
Author Maggie Gee
Cover artist Robert Taylor
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Saqi Books
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 416
ISBN 0-86356-380-5

The White Family is a novel by English author Maggie Gee, published in 2002 in London by Saqi Books. It was shortlisted for both the 2003 Orange Prize[1] and the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.[2]

Plot introduction[edit]

It is set in Hillesden, a thinly disguised Willesden[3][4] in north-west London. Alfred White, a park keeper collapses while on duty, and his family gather round his hospital bed and reflect on issues of love, hatred, sex and death.[5]


  • Maya Jaggi in The Guardian writes: "An audacious, groundbreaking condition-of-England novel that delves for the roots of xenophobic hatred and violence in the English hearth" and concludes "The White Family is finely judged and compulsively readable. Its head-on scrutiny of the uglier face of fair Albion is the more impressive for its rarity in British fiction."[6]
  • Hephzibah Anderson in The Observer is more critical: 'Gee is unflinching in her exploration of the causes and consequences of racism, but too often she delves beneath the skin of her archetypes to come up with near stereotypes, and for all that it aims at up-to-the-minute, the book remains curiously, naïvely dated. As White Teeth, that other multi-cultural Brent novel showed, today's racial landscape is coloured less in blacks and whites than myriad shades of grey."[7]


Characters in The White Family appear in Gee's 2004 novel The Flood, set in an unspecified future date.[8]


  1. ^ Orange Prize 2002 | Special Reports | Books Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. ^ 2004 Shortlist | International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  3. ^ "What's On", The Willesden Herald, Saturday, 10 July 2004. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  4. ^ Kasia Boddy, "Rich people and foxes desert the city" - review of The Flood, The Telegraph, 24 February 2004. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  5. ^ Rear jacket, First edition.
  6. ^ "Too close to home – Maya Jaggi acclaims The White Family by Maggie Gee, a portrait of race in Britain", The Guardian, Saturday 25 May 2002. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  7. ^ Hephzibah Anderson, "A bit of a grey area – Maggie Gee's black and white examination of race in modern Britain, The White Family, seems curiously dated", The Observer, Sunday, 5 May 2002. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  8. ^ Book Reviews - The Flood by Maggie Gee. Retrieved 7 August 2014.