Reviews of the Week with Marcus Samuelsson, Nic Stone, Robert Paarlberg, and More!

The Review of the Day has always been a brief, early way to spotlight exceptional upcoming titles on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, in high demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight.

Reading to enrich our food culture, environment, and society is the focus of this week’s #ReviewsOfTheDay. Booklist wishes you all well.

Monday, September 28

The Chilean Kitchen: 75 Seasonal Recipes for Stews, Breads, Salads, Cocktails, Desserts, and More, by Pilar Hernandez and Eileen Smith

This comfortable and authentic introduction to the cuisine of central Chile is authored by Chilean-native Hernandez, now based in Houston, and Smith, an American expat in Santiago. Readers familiar with South American cooking will recognize staples like aji and quinoa, though the authors insist that, when it comes to this vast region, many specific foodstuffs don’t cross borders. While even well-practiced home chefs might find it difficult to source some ingredients here, for the most part, the authors do recommend viable substitutes that can be found stateside. Hernandez and Smith plunge readers into four seasonal chapters, with rewarding results.

Tuesday, September 29

Dear Justyce, by Nic Stone

LaQuan Banks, a background character in 2017’s Dear Martin, takes center stage in this sequel, as readers meet him in a youth detention center where he’s serving time for the alleged murder of a police officer. Through written correspondence, Quan develops a bond with Dear Martin’s Justyce, now a prelaw student at Yale, whose letters to Dr. King inspired Quan. As he struggles in detention to earn his diploma and escape an oppressive cycle, Quan questions how he and Justyce ended up so differently; was it “pure choice” or circumstance? While Dear Martin is a about a young Black man with opportunity, Dear Justyce is about the Black and POC teenagers and adults who never had those opportunities. Through visceral storytelling that covers various stages of Quan’s life, Stone writes of individual, interpersonal, and community trauma; struggling familial relationships; and the dangerous stereotypes and assumptions that result in youth of color, specifically Black kids, being incarcerated, wrongly accused, killed, or otherwise targeted.

Wednesday, September 30

The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food, by Marcus Samuelsson

Fans of the Food Network channel and PBS’ No Passport Required will recognize chef, restaurateur, philanthropist, author, and food activist Samuelsson (The Red Rooster Cookbook, 2016). Along with James Beard Award–winning author Osayi Endolyn and recipe developers Yewande Komolafe and Tamie Cook, here he takes readers on a culinary journey to discuss the diversity, history, culture, and spirituality that Black food and Black chefs express. Among biographies highlighting the culinary contributions of dozens of contemporary Black chefs including Shakirah Smiley, Nina Compton, and Eric Gestel, readers will find more than 150 delicious recipes, each shared in tribute to their work: Lagos plantains with suya dip in honor of Eduardo Jordan, island jollof rice in honor of Eric Adjepong, grilled Piri Piri shrimp with papaya and watermelon salad in honor of Devita Davidson.

Thursday, October 1

We Will Live in This Forest Again, by Gianna Marino

“We have always lived in this forest,” begins the story. Initially, the birds and other creatures didn’t notice the spark that flew into the dry treetops overhead, but once the flames took hold, smoke darkened the sky, the winds roared, and the frightened animals fled. Even the powerful mountain lion seemed fragile when threatened by fire. The story progresses in past tense until its turning point, when the animals have outrun the flames and narrative focus shifts away from the past, “The smoke was strong. / But we were stronger. / In time, our forest will return.” With new shoots, bushes, and trees emerging, the animals will return as well. Marino’s strong yet delicate paintings feature overlapping layers of luminous colors: tranquil blues and greens at the beginning, yellows and flaming reds when the fire takes hold, brownish grays and black afterwards, and in the future, greens and blues again.

Friday, October 2

Resetting the Table: Straight Talk about the Food We Grow and Eat, by Robert Paarlberg

Wellesley College political-science professor and Harvard University researcher Paarlberg (The United States of Excess, 2015), who’s had a career-long focus on agricultural policy, shares this broadly and deeply informed discussion of the life-and-death issues over how we grow, process, and consume our food. In particular, he cites the tension between noble efforts to build sustainability and safety into our food system against the overwhelming need to supply vast quantities of food to a hungry, ever-growing global population.

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About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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