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Delicious Foods

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  5,516 ratings  ·  935 reviews
Darlene, a young widow and mother devastated by the death of her husband, turns to drugs to erase the trauma. In this fog of grief, she is lured with the promise of a great job to a mysterious farm run by a shady company, with disastrous consequences for both her and her eleven-year-old son, Eddie--left behind in a panic-stricken search for her.

Delicious Foods tells the gr
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Little, Brown
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Katherine Yes. Crack cocaine is a narrator and is rather salty.
Tammy NO! This book is inappropriate for anyone under 16.

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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,516 ratings  ·  935 reviews

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Dec 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
looking for great books to read during black history month...and the other eleven months? i'm going to float some of my favorites throughout the month, and i hope they will find new readers!

…what's helpless always gon take the biggest part of the rage.

4.5-5 stars

your response to the opening scene of this book is a pretty good indicator of whether or not this book is for you:

a young man named eddie with (very) recently amputated hands drives a car towards an unknown location, fleeing an unknown s
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Any critic saying this novel is funny is full of s#!t. This is Sad, Serious stuff. The kind that the literati rejoice over. The kind that they'll swiftly (rightfully) recommend to you...

I fell quite hard for this one. It's grueling & awful; it's "The Color Purple" for a new generation. That crack cocaine is a character in itself is masterful (one is quick to relate this type of effect with "The Book Thief"'s omniscient master narrator: Death). That today slavery is still alive and "doing well" i
Ron Charles
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-favorites
I barely caught my breath from reading T. Geronimo Johnson’s “Welcome to Braggsville” before I plunged into James Hannaham’s “Delicious Foods,” another sensational new novel about the tenacity of racism and its bizarre permutations. These two African American men — both in their mid-40s, both on their second novel — bounce off the page with the sharpest, wittiest, most unsettling cultural criticism I’ve read in years.

Johnson, whose novel I reviewed last month, is the master ironist, with an acro
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This one is gonna win some prizes; it's very good. Review forthcoming in an actual publication, Bookforum. ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wish this seemed more improbable.
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The book all the cool kids will be reading in 2015 partially narrated by everyone's friend, Crack Cocaine. ...more

3.5 Stars

I seem to spend a lot of time in my reviews saying that whatever book I've just finished was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. Maybe I'm not reading the descriptions thoroughly? For whatever reason, we will be continuing with that theme, as Delicious Foods was absolutely nothing like what I thought it would be. I thought -- wrongly -- that this would be whimsical! Magical! Not brutal, searing, and heartbreaking! I blame the cover.

This book is . . . Brutal. Searing. Heartbreak
Aug 12, 2020 rated it liked it
The structure of this novel didn't work for me -moving back and forth in time - dissipating any momentum or tension. Well written and unsettling and could have been powerful but I didn't really care about any of the characters or what happened to them by the end. ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 18, 2014 rated it liked it
catching up on reviews,
Now that I have gotten a bed

A very original and creative plot, a dark comedy using every racial stereotype that can be misconstrued, and a narrator named "Scotty" crack cocaine speaking for Darlene. This book starts off with a very shocking revelation and we learn how, "Scotty" managed to get such a hold on Darlene, to the point where she is able to almost completely forget her son.

At one point this reminded me of the Goldie Hawn movie, Private Benjamin, where she is promi
Brendan Monroe
Why are independent bookshops such an integral part of a thriving community? Because a good independent bookshop promotes books like these.

I was traveling in Oregon last October when I stumbled into the little western flavored town of Jacksonville, not far from the California border. It was a small town, but infinitely charming, with only one main street, California Street, which could have stood in as a location in any number of old Clint Eastwood or John Wayne westerns.

At 157 California Stree
lark benobi
The word "mordant" could have been created for just this book. The use of humor and exaggeration to describe some very dark themes is unsettling in all the right ways. It's a disorienting and demanding read which is a fair place to put your novel when you're talking about forced enslavement and racism and violence toward the weak.

In some ways though the book as written was a little too demanding for me. I think the narrative voice and timeline of events jumps around far too frenetically for the
Jessica Sullivan
3.5 Stars.

Delicious Foods begins with Eddie, a young man with freshly severed hands, frantically trying to steer a stolen car from Louisiana to Minnesota. It's a gripping first chapter that sets the stage for the rest of the novel. What exactly is Eddie escaping? How did he lose his hands?

From there, we step back quite a bit to see what led Eddie to this situation. We learn that his father died horrifically when Eddie was six years old. His mother Darlene, devastated by the loss of her beloved h
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
[*deep breath*]

After I finished this book I lay awake staring at the ceiling for 30 minutes, thinking: if this book doesn't win an award this year I don't know what the hell people think good literature is.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book. I knew its main theme was the devastating effects of crack cocaine, but had no idea of what kind of ride this book would take me on. The first chapter completely jars you out of any sense of comfort with its brutality; the rest is deep, slow burn of
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
My reaction to the opening scene of this book was “What. The. F**k.” If any book ever hooked me, literally from the very first sentence, it was this one. After the prologue the story went back in time to where it all began but, when it finally caught up again, I was biting my nails and cringing, waiting for the inevitable to happen.

The story is told at varying times from the perspectives of Eddie, his mother Darlene, and Scotty (Scotty being the crack-cocaine to which Darlene is addicted). Thes
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
3.5- stars, really.

i finished the read this morning. i liked a lot about the book, but didn't end up loving it overall. i do think it's very creative and brings up some really meaty, important issues.

i went into this with the idea of satire in my mind, but that quickly fell away for me as the heavier themes came to the front. (though there is totally compatibility between satire and social critique.)

the read was quite visceral for me, and very vivid. hannaham is a great storyteller. (i will admi
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well, crack cocaine was the narrator (a good one too), so that's an automatic three stars right there.

Hannaham was extremely inventive with his style in this book and, as unusual as it was, somehow it worked. The plot was unique and captivating. Crackheads who have signed a completely unenforceable contract whereby they agree to a lifetime of servitude picking fruits for Delicious Foods, a mysterious benevolent sounding corporation (but in a creepy way) where the workers are treated like slaves
Dan Radovich
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hannaham ventures into the Southern Gothic territory mastered by Daniel Woodrell with his newest DELICIOUS FOODS and delivers a masterpiece. Darlene, her son Eddie and drugs are the main characters in this tour de force work of love and freedom. Dark. Comic. Haunting. Hannaham's gorgeous prose rings in your mind as you paint the images he brings forth; some gruesome yet all rewarding. This could very well be THE book of 2015 talked about by readers across America. Enslavement, love, freedom... t ...more
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, reviews
Absolutely superb. If this book does not win awards this year then I'll be damned if I know what they're looking for in a great novel. I'm not sure what I expected when I picked this up but it certainly was not what I got. The first chapter after the prologue was a bit jarring. It took a few pages to get used to the narrative style of "Scotty." I adjusted quickly, however, and it only took a few pages for me to be completely taken in. There was not a single character in the novel who did not com ...more
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I wanted to like the book more than I did, but it's still worth reading. An intelligent young couple with an infant child move down to Ovis, Louisiana to help politically organize the black population only to fall victim to a vicious racist attack.The wife lives on but is destroyed emotionally and falls into a chasm of depression, drug abuse and prostituition.only to disappear completely from sight.after having been shanghaied onto a produce farm, Delicious Foods, where all the workers are fello ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it
*** Minor spoilers ***

I didn't realize the basis for "Delicious Foods" was a real-life events until I was almost finished reading it and when I found out, I wasn't particularly surprised. A farm that pays black employees in drugs and trumps up debt that contractually bars them from leaving the premises isn't too far-out a conceit.

By that point in my reading experience, this book had long ceased to be about the titular agricultural enslaver, Delicious Foods. At its core, the novel is about what
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
3.5 I struggled with this rating. The book takes a brutal look at the cascading events that can lead to addiction to crack cocaine and the devastating effect addiction has on children and families. The fact that modern-day slavery exists on farms (the Delicious Foods of the title) is sobering and makes you think about where your food comes from. It's a worthwhile book that led to a great book club discussion.

But I'm not a book critic. I'm just a reader who rates books according to how much I en
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Wanted to like this book but also debated on buying it should have listen to gut. There was too much hype around it usually skip a book if overly hyped talking to you gone girl, ice cream star, girl on a train and anything by Stephen King. It was a struggle to get through delicious foods. Didn't care to know what happened ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in contemporary American race relations
Recommended to Velma by: Derek Attig via BookRiot
Added 1/8/16: FAVORITE READ OF 2016

Added 3/26/15: Approaching the end of the first quarter of the 2015 reading year, and this is still the best book of the 15 I've read so far.


I copped an advance copy of James Hannaham's Delicious Foods, which comes out this March, and it is *intense*. To all my squeamish-reader friends out there, the ones who prefer feel-good reading: this ain't for you.

But if you like a good dose of the real world, particularly if, like me, you are one lucky sumbitch in
AmberBug com* review
Dear Reader,

I was not expecting this book to be what it is. I don't know why, but I had a vision in my head of how this novel was before even cracking the spine. I actually audiobook'd this... so all spines are still intact. I have to say though, you must audiobook this one.... if only because the Author, James Hannaham, does a fantastic impression of crack cocaine. Yep, you heard right. Crack cocaine is a main character, and a very strong one indeed. I was so enamoured
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I will admit that I started out reading the print book but I was just not feeling it. Then I tried the audio book for me and I became enthralled. Kudos to the author who narrates the audio book for making the characters soar. I knew that crack cocaine would be a character but not sure how it would work – but “Scotty” is certainly a character and his point-on-view on addiction and the choice and reasons were both amusing and scary.
I found this to be a cunningly unique storyline that uses at times
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vcfa
Blurbs on books often describe them as "a tour de force." Heck, Jennifer Egan does it on this one. But guess what? This time, it's true. An extraordinary, inventive, surprising, compelling and masterful novel. Read it. ...more
Jessica Woodbury
I kept hearing buzz about this book, but it kind of got lost in my advance-reading. But I'm glad that I read it in audio because I really enjoyed Hannaham's reading. I want to say first of all that if you do this book in audio you'll hear the first chapter and think, "Why does everyone rate this narrator so highly? It feels really stiff." Just give it another chapter. There's a second narrative voice that works incredibly well and as you go through the juxtaposition of the two narrators will add ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first heard the title of this book I thought it must be another celebrity chef The author, James Hannaham narrates this shocking, heartbreaking and at times humorous novel through the voice of Scotty. I am so naive it took me half the book to figure out who Scotty was. This is the type of book that is impossible to say you liked but you have to admire the writer that conceived the story and penned it. Hannaham is a prodigious talent. I'm predicting this is remarkable enough ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this almost in spite of itself. The story was fascinating, even if the narration-by-drugs was a little much. I was even willing to forgive the lack of quotation marks because, well, you know, it was narrated by drugs.
Jennifer Spiegel
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-books
This review originally appeared on The Live Oak Review (


I waited till the very end of 2016 to read it, though I picked up the paperback in January (it came out in hardback in 2015). I don’t know why. Nestled on my shelf between must-reads and supposed-to-reads, Delicious Foods remained unread throughout the year: missing the havoc of the election, skipping the annual list-making season in which readers formulate their Top Ten Books of 2016. My own b
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James Hannaham is the author, most recently, of the novel Delicious Foods, which is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick for Spring 2015. His first novel, God Says No, was published by McSweeney's in 2009 and was a finalist for a Lambda Book Award, a semifinalist for a VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and was named an honor book by the American Library Association's Stonewall Book Awar ...more

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