All posts filed under: Books

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

If there’s one book you read this year, make sure it’s this one. It took me a month of Sundays to finish on account of the detailed content, (and reading another book in between) but wow, was it worth it! I came away inspired, informed and far more aware of the adage, ‘you are what you eat’. American author, Barbara Kingsolver, best known for her fiction titles, The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees – (two of 12 published works), tells the story of her family’s year-long sojourn – their challenge to only eat food produced on their 100-year-old farm or sourced from the area.  In her words, “this is the story…of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place we worked, went to school, loved our neighbours, drank the water, and breathed the air.” It gives fascinating, and sometimes shocking insight into the American food industry often monopolised by huge corporates. While her husband, Steven, an environmental studies expert interjects her story with informative …

A couple’s journey into parenthood

Cape Town writer Lisa Lazarus doesn’t mince her words when explaining why she wrote The Book of Jacob—her joint memoir of a couple’s journey into parenthood. ”I wrote it because I was cross, in truth I was furious—the book really burst out of me,” she said at the recent launch of the book, which was co-written with her husband, UCT philosophy teacher Greg Fried. ”It was this feeling that sparked the book, like I’d been conned in some way.” Everyone who has been through the joy and trauma of having a child will relate to Lisa’s sentiment, knowing that, with the exhilaration of the beloved precious bundle comes a great deal of hard work, deep feelings of failure and loss—and many sleepless nights. Her husband has this to say: ”The Book of Jacob doesn’t look like the other books in the parenting section. The other books are in bright colours, red, orange, green, with cute infants and serene or laughing parents, books pleading to be adored. Our volume, with its haunting, silvery gleam, like a …

The Last Chinese Chef

‘A story of food, healing and love’ reads the blurb. It’s that … and more. Food writer, Maggie goes on a quest to Beijing, China, to discover the truth behind her late husband’s infidelity and subsequent paternity suit. The search coincides with the opportunity to interview rising culinary star, Sam Liang for a magazine. The story seems like a straight forward piece like the many emotionally unattached stories she’s written before, but she is soon captivated by China and discovers a food steeped in ancient history and philosophy. She cannot help being drawn into Sam’s world—and begins to understand his passion to re-connect with familial culinary roots. He gives her a sumptuous insight into Chinese cuisine and she begins a gastronomically enchanting journey—one that ultimately sees her healing from the tragedy of her husband’s untimely death and shock discovery of his betrayal. A great read for the foodies and romantics out there.

Pomegranate Soup

Three sisters flee Iraq in the midst of political and personal turmoil and settle in a quaint little Irish town called Ballinacroagh. Reminiscent of Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, the sisters open The Babylon Café serving exquisitely created Iranian fare that transcends the bland local offering. Gradually, they win over the jolly Father Ferber Mahoney and a number of his merry followers, all inexplicably drawn to the café’s sublime and exotic aromas. Not everyone, however, is entranced by their instant success – least of all the town bully, Thomas McGuire, who monopolises local business with his scare tactics. He also harbours a deep desire to take over The Babylon Café for the creation of a tacky disco. The past also threatens to haunt the sisters and brings an insidious darkness to the fresh start they hope for. Each chapter begins with a recipe and by the end, the reader can almost taste the plump ‘elephant ears’ – pastries dusted in sugar and cinnamon, the heady aroma of abgusht – a rich, clear broth made with lamb, vegetables and lashing …

Breath

Australian author, Tim Winton’s gift of writing with clarity and simplicity immediately sweeps his reader into the story.

In Breath, even the brooding dark cover of boy in dusk surf aptly dictates the darkness that seems to permeate through the entire novel. Narrated by ‘Pikelet’ – a young surfer, it tells the story of his sometimes tortured life story – of the peaks and troughs that come with adolescence.

The Red Tent

An imaginative, compelling story set in ancient Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Egypt, offers readers a rare insight into life as a biblical woman—in particular, Dinah, only daughter of Jacob. While the author, Anita Diamant maintains her interpretation is purely fictional (food sounded delectable), she has clearly researched her topic with great detail and there are fascinating and colourful glimpses into the lives of these historical biblical characters such as Rachel and Leah. It brings them to life as women of great strength, character, and intelligence. Dinah narrates her own story, vividly tracing her journey from life as a young girl into adulthood and beyond. It gives readers insight into all aspects of life in these times—from giving birth, death, honour and the intricately woven relationships that must have existed in the tribes of old. In essence, it gives Dinah a voice. Says the author: ‘I was drawn to retell the biblical story of Dinah in large part because of her silence. In Genesis 34, Dinah’s experience is described and characterized by the men in her family, …