Thursday, December 11, 2014

More Food Fiction for Hungry Readers

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen was winner of the U.S. 2001 National Book Award for Fiction and the U.K. James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 2002. 
Centered around the Lambert family this is the story of Enid Lambert who has set her heart on the elusive goal of bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.  Enid's husband, Alfred, a retired railroad engineer and stern patriarch of the Lambert family, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease and their three adult children, Gary, Chip and Denise have long since left home.  Enid is distressed by the questionable life choices her three children have made and their abandonment of the Midwestern Protestant values. Gary the eldest, a successful but seemingly depressed and alcoholic banker, Chip suffering from the effects of a disastrous affair with a student loses his tenure job and lands in the employ of a Lithuanian crime boss and Denise, the youngest, escapes a disastrous marriage then loses her job as a successful chef in Philadelphia  after having an affair with her boss. All these stories converge on Christmas morning back in the family home at St.Jude where Enid and her children are forced to confront Alfred's physical and mental decline.

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Ballinacroagh is a sheltered village in the damp and lovely County Mayo, Ireland.  It is here the Aminpour sisters find a safe haven having fled the revolution era in Iran seven years earlier.  The sisters set about creating a Persian oasis from the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall.  Named the Babylon Café, wafts of cardamom, cinnamon and saffron float through the streets from the café and shock the towns residents who diet mostly on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. Inevitably not everyone is happy with this change, particularly Thomas McGuire who has been trying to buy the old pastry shop for years, only to find it  occupied by foreigners. Business,  however is booming for the sisters as they find supporters in Father Fergal Mahoney, the stand up comedian turned priest, Estelle Delmonico, a lonely widow and the headstrong hairdresser, Fiona Athey.  Gradually the sisters are transformed, Marjan is thrilled with the demand for her food, young Lalyla finds first love, and tense haunted Bahar seems to be less nervous. However the past catches up with them and threatens their peaceful new life once more as the life they left behind bleeds into the present.

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