A few recent-ish novels enticed this food writing nerd over to the fiction section. Readers seeking great, lovable characters and entertaining narratives should look no further. Grab some snacks and dig in!
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Gorgeously written tale of life behind the scenes at a New York fine dining restaurant. Our young protagonist gets hired as a server and is quickly seduced by the front-of-house culture of intoxicating flavors, substances, and personalities. (It’s been made into a TV show too!)
Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
paperback, used copies start at $8.99!*
Follow the life of a Twin Cities culinary prodigy from her childhood obsession with hot peppers to her career as the country’s most in-demand avant-garde chef, through the eyes of different people who cross her path over the years. Funny, poignant, full of naturalistic detail.
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Now this is a fun one. A young software programmer working in robotics in San Francisco becomes the owner of an exceptionally strange and mysterious sourdough starter (it sings, it glows, it responds to stimuli) and discovers a new calling as a bread baker. Soon she is working at an experimental underground farmer’s market and teaching a robotic arm to mix her dough; she also meets the Bay Area’s most important sustainability-minded chef (*ahem* Alice Waters *ahem*). Things are going great until a geneticist working on a high-tech food substitute becomes a little too interested in the starter; hijinks ensue.
A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles
When an aging Russian aristocrat is sentenced by the Bolshevik government to life under house arrest at Moscow’s most splendid hotel, he makes the best of the situation. His expert knowledge of fine food and wines gains him entree into the inner workings of the hotel’s fine restaurants and cellar, where he becomes part of an intimate group of lovely, quirky characters. Kind of a cross between Bemelmans’ Hotel Splendide and Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day.
*We’re a used bookstore too! Prices listed here reflect our stock at the time of this article’s posting. These used copies may sell, or more might become available. If used copies run out, new copies can also be purchased online at magersandquinn.com.