Delicious Foods (Hannaham)

This one almost got by me. If not for the reviews of a couple of Facebook friends, I think I would have missed it. What a remarkable writer and what a remarkable story. The story is told from the point of view of three characters, Darlene (the mother), Eddie (the son), and Scotty (not going to spoil this). In addition to Hannaham’s powerful yet understated writing (I may just copy the passage in which Eddie recalls earlier memories of his mother, Darlene, and give it to my mother as a mother’s day card), Hannaham has created a plot that both reaches back in time to slavery era and illustrates the contemporary plight of farmworkers. Several of these farmworkers mention thinking about the path the food takes from when they picked it to when someone eats it. How often do we think about that path in reverse? The novel is not just about being enslaved by someone who physically exploits you, it is also about debt slavery and the way we enslave ourselves. Though the prose is often lyrical, Hannaham does not shy away from or sugarcoat the physical realities of the setting. The scene that finally explains why Eddie is driving the way he is in the opening of the book is both precise and gruesome. I am going to look for his first novel, God Says No, and wonder what he’s going to do next.

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