Nominated by:

Chicago Public Library, USA

Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, USA

Jacksonville Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Little, Brown & Company, USA

Delicious Foods

James Hannaham      

2017 Longlist

Held captive by her employers – and by her own demons – on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.

Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs, and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.

Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Eddie, now left behind in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.

The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham’s treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.

(from publisher)

About the Author

James Hannaham is also the author of the novel God Says No, which was honored by the American Library Association. He holds an MFA from the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and lives in Brooklyn, where he teaches creative writing at the Pratt Institute.

Librarians’ Comments

Hannaham’s narrative about a mother and son trapped in gruelling labor in a Louisiana fruit farm, is dark and harrowing. Using a unique approach to POV (including the voice of crack cocaine), the novel charms readers to a compelling, at times funny, narrative about loss and drug addiction while exploring the lives of migrant workers, modern day slavery, and racism.

This searing indictment of racist and modern day slavery explores the power of family and the enduring ties of love between a mother and son. As Hannraham deftly limns the underbelly of contemporary American life and the devastating effect of drugs, his sober theme is leavened by rich humor, insight and compassion.

Delicious Foods is a gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. James Hannaham creates an experience that is desperate and will test the bond between a mother and her son, and their ordeal spills over with compassion. We as readers experience a story that is both contemporary and historical, that wrestles with the timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption and the will to survive.

Related Entries