Delicious Foods: A Novel Hardcover – March 17, 2015

$10.85 (as of March 4, 2019, 1:09 am)

WINNER OF THE 2016 PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FOR FICTION WINNER OF THE HURSTON/WRIGHT LEGACY FICTION AWARDFINALIST FOR THE 2016 DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES PRIZE FOR FICTION NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington PostA BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Kirkus, BuzzFeed, National Post, Kansas City StarTOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Publishers WeeklyTOP 15 BOOKS OF THE YEAR: BookPageHeld captive by her employers–and by her own demons–on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene’s haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene’s travails, Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.

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Review

“[A] sensational new novel about the tenacity of racism and its bizarre permutations… bounce[s] off the page with the sharpest, wittiest, most unsettling cultural criticism I’ve read in years… Hannaham is a propulsive storyteller... the whole story speeds through the dark… never takes its foot off the gas… An archetypal tale of American struggle… Reminiscent of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World…[A] fantastically creative performance… [An] insightful and ultimately tender novel… You will devour this book.” Ron Charles, Washington Post

A writer of major importance… Moments of deft lyricism are Hannaham’s greatest strength, and those touches of beauty and intuitive metaphor make the novel’s difficult subject matter easier to bear… The novel’s finest moments are… in the singular way that Hannaham can make the commonplace spring to life with nothing more than astute observations and precise language.”―New York Times Book Review

“Hannaham’s prose is gloriously dense and full of elegant observations that might go unmade by a lesser writer. There is a great warmth in this novel that tackles darkness… [Hannaham] creates full-bodied characters. Even the minor figures are drawn with subtle details… Hannaham’s decision to give a voice to crack–in the character Scotty–occasions some lively and inventive writing. Scotty has swagger and a sly sense of humor, and when he narrates he holds your attention… The character is complex, both tender and ruthless… A grand, empathetic, and funny novel about addiction, labor exploitation, and love… Delicious Foods should be read for its bold narrative risks, as well as the heart and humor of its author’s prose.“―Roxane Gay, Bookforum

Harrowing… Hannaham details a cycle of despair and enslavement in the poverty-ridden South… What emerges is the powerful tale of a place whose past is ‘a ditch so deep with bodies it could pass for a starless night.'”
The New Yorker

Delicious Foods has plenty of magic in it, and plenty of tragedy… A powerful allegory about modern-day slavery, Delicious Foods explores the ways that even the most extraordinary black men and women are robbed of the right to control their own lives... [Hannaham] is serious about investigating the long-term effects of internalized racism, and the despair that prevents people from helping themselves… A sharp critique of the American belief that you can do anything as long as you work hard.”―Entertainment Weekly

“The novel’s unforgettable cast… satisfies all our readerly cravings and without ostentation… The story’s twists are at times implausible but nonetheless are a great feat of imagination. Hannaham has put his characters in the perfect conditions for these issues to play out–and for us to believe them… From what we’ve seen go down at Delicious, from the tenacity of this mother and son, we know it’s love that keeps us going. Love is a rock every bit as hard as those diamond stars. Its indestructible beauty is enough to break down the earthly rocks that are its meager imitations.”―The Rumpus

“James Hannaham’s satirical and darkly humorous look at racism, drugs, and the American South begins intensely… and doesn’t let up… This brutal and beautiful tome is irresistible.
USA Today

Delicious Foods is not a story about the death of the American Dream, but an illumination of the fantasies that surround it, and the denial that permits us to believe in its innocence. It is also a compelling and haunting tale of family, responsibility, and endurance.”―Guernica

“An audacious, heartbreaking story… that is intended to be allegorical, but unearths a horror that is real and whose roots reach all the way back to slavery… Hannaham brilliantly creates a metaphor for human trafficking, modern-day industrialism, the pernicious effects of the war on drugs, and society’s greedy need for ‘quality’ delivered as cheaply as possible… Delicious Foods stay[s] in the mind… A breathtaking depiction of how difficult is to break a spirit down, and how stubborn and resilient people can be. “―Maclean’s

“Strange and often haunting, Hannaham’s brilliant look at the parent and child relationship, and the things that can tear that normally unbreakable bond apart, could be one of the best novels of 2015.”―Men’s Journal

About the Author

James Hannaham is the author of the novel God Says No, which was honored by the American Library Association. He holds an MFA from the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and lives in Brooklyn, where he teaches creative writing at the Pratt Institute.

WINNER OF THE 2016 PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FOR FICTION WINNER OF THE HURSTON/WRIGHT LEGACY FICTION AWARDFINALIST FOR THE 2016 DAYTON LITERARY PEACE PRIZE FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES PRIZE FOR FICTION NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, Washington PostA BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, Kirkus, BuzzFeed, National Post, Kansas City StarTOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Publishers WeeklyTOP 15 BOOKS OF THE YEAR: BookPageHeld captive by her employers–and by her own demons–on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.In Delicious Foods, James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene’s haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene’s travails, Hannaham’s daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.

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