Author(s): J. Ryan Stradal
Who is Eva Thorvald?
To her single father, a chef, she's a pint-sized recipe tester and the love of his life. To the chilli chowdown contestants of Cook County, Illinois, she's a fire-eating demon. To the fashionable foodie goddess of supper clubs, she's a wanton threat. She's an enigma, a secret ingredient that no one can put their finger on. Eva will surprise everyone.
On the day before her eleventh birthday, she's cultivating chilli peppers in her wardrobe like a pro. Abandoned by her mother, gangly and poor, Eva arms herself with the weapons of her unknown heritage: a kick-ass palate and a passion bordering on obsession.
Over the years, her tastes grow, and so do her ambitions. One day Eva will be the greatest chef in the world. But along the way, the people she meets will shape her - and she, them - in ways unforgettable, riotous and profound. So she - for one - knows exactly who she is by the time her mother returns.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest is about the family you lose, the friends you make and chance connections that can define a life. Joyful, quirky or brazen, everyone lends their voice to tell Eva's story - one that's as heartwarming as it is irresistible, taking the bitter with the sweet.
'A big-hearted, funny, and class-transcending pleasure. It's also both a structural and empathetic tour de force, stepping across worlds in the American Midwest, and demonstrating with an enviable tenderness and ingenuity the tug of war between our freedom to pursue our passions and our obligations to those we love' Jim Shepard. 'From the quite literally burning passions of a lonely eleven-year-old girl with an exceptional palate, to the ethical dilemmas behind a batch of Blue Ribbon Peanut Butter Bars, J. Ryan Stradal writes with a special kind of meticulous tenderness - missing nothing and accepting everything. A superbly gratifying debut' Meg Howrey. 'In Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a charming, fast-moving round robin tale of food, sensuality and Midwestern culture, Mr Stradal has delivered one extremely tasty, well- seasoned debut in what is sure to be a long and savory career' Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black. 'A Great American Novel in the fullest sense of the term. Everything you want a book to be' Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day.
J. Ryan Stradal's writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Rattling Wall, McSweeney's: The Goods, and Hobart, among other places, and he edits the fiction section of The Nervous Breakdown. Born and raised in Minnesota, he now lives in Los Angeles, where he co-hosts a literary-culinary events series called Hot Dish and has worked as a TV producer, notably for Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch. He does not own a gun and a motorcycle, which makes him unique among the men in his extended family.