The Fiction of Food: Good Reads

A novel thing, novels about food? Not really, not any more.  It seems like every publisher, and every writer, is racing behind the food-as-novel bandwagon, grasping at the flying straws, straining to hop aboard before  the cart crashes.

Like all fads, trends, what-have-you crazes, some of these novels succeed, while the others appall,  so frightfully bad and boring that you can only blush with embarrassment for  the proud authors.

If you have time to laze about this summer, here’s a very brief list of food-related novels and mysteries sure to keep your appetite whetted.

The Belly of Paris, by Émile Zola

A Body to Die For, by G. A. McKevett

The Book of Salt, by Monique Truong

Butter Safe Than Sorry, by Tamar Myers

Chef: A Novel, by Jaspreet Singh

Chocolat, by Janne Harris

Chocolate to Die For, by JoAnna Carl

The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman

Cream Puff  Murder, by Joanne Fluke

Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber

La Cucina, by Lily Prior

The Cupcake Queen, by Heather Hepler

The Cuttlefish, by Maryline Desbiolles

Dead in the Dregs, by Peter Lewis

Death in Two Courses, by Claudia Bishop

Debt to Pleasure, by John Lanchester

The Discovery of Chocolate, by James Runcie

Fatally Flaky, by Diane Mott Davidson

Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris

The Flounder, by Günter Grass

Gourmet Rhapsody, by Muriel Barberry

The Grave Gourmet, by Alexander Campeon

Heartburn, by Nora Ephron

High Bonnet: A Novel of Epicurean Adventures, by Idwal Jones

In the Kitchen: A Novel, by Monica Ali

Kitchen, by Bannan Yoshimoto

The Last Chinese Chef, by Nicole Mones

Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel

Mangoes and Quince, by Carol Field

Mistress of Spices, by Chitra Divakaruni

My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki

Passionate Epicure, by Marcel Rouff

Pomegranate Soup: A Novel, by Marsha Mehran

St. Burl’s Obituary, by Daniel Akst

The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister

A Toast to Murder, by Michele Scott

Vintage Caper, by Peter Mayle

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter Lewis says:


    I feel honored to be included in your brilliant and esteemed list.

    Many thanks,



  2. Polly says:

    Thanks Cynthia! Right, Wizenberg’s is a non-fiction memoir. The “Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake” on the last pages of the book is probably the best cake I’ve made this year. I’ve read the “Last Chinese Chef”, loved it. I’ve also read “The Language of Baklava” by Diana Abu-Jaber, but didn’t know she had another book out. So it’s “Crescent”, by Diana Abu-Jaber and “The School of Essential Ingredients” by Erica Bauermeister. Perfect! Thank you.


  3. Jes says:

    Great round-up of food-related novels!


  4. Camping trip = paperbacks, less weight.

    OK, here are the three I’d take:

    Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber
    The Last Chinese Chef, by Nicole Mones
    The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister

    Wizenberg’s book is a non-fiction memoir (see memoirs on Gherkins & Tomatoes on 7/15/2010, BTW) — I did not include it in that list, because while it reads smoothly and very well, I just prefer others in the food-memoir group.

    Enjoy, and let us know what you think of these after you get back, OK?


  5. Polly says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read all of them right now…but I need THREE for an upcoming camping trip. Can you select your top five? Please, pretty please…with Gherkins and Tomatoes on top? (How about if I suggest one for you missed…Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life”…oh, it is a bit of a girlie book…BUT, there’s GREAT chocolate cake recipe on the last pages!)


  6. Pingback: Best of the Blogs
  7. What indeed? Seems like I’m never caught up these days.


  8. Louise says:

    Great selection, cynthia. Now as for the lazy days of summer…what’s that?

    Thanks for sharing…


  9. I knew I could count on you, Gary, to find something utterly delectable. Sounds right up my alley. Thanks! I’ll check it out.


  10. gary says:

    Jacqueline Deval’s “Reckless Appetites: A Culinary Romance” is a neat little epistolary novel, in which each letter is written by a different character.


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