This book is about Lois Clary, a talented young programmer from Michigan who follows a job to California, only to be drawn into the weird world of food that waits there. It’s about work and eating, robots and microbes, independence and ambition,
I believe it is the first novel in English to feature, as a key supporting character, a sentient sourdough starter.
The great Cory Doctorow praised the book for covering
so much terrain: microbial nations, assimilation and tradition, embodied consciousness and the crisis of the tech industry, all without losing the light, sweet, ironic Sloanian voice familiar from Penumbra, a plot that makes the book a page-turner and a laugh-out-louder, with sweetness and romance and tartness and irony in perfect balance.
Writing for NPR, Jason Sheehan said of Sourdough:
It is a beautiful, small, sweet, quiet book. It knows as much about the strange extremes of food as Penumbra did about the dark latitudes of the book community.
The Suitcase Clone
Bundled with the latest MCD edition of Sourdough, you’ll find a short prequel. The story is set between California and Europe, circa 1986. It’s a globetrotting caper that carries us into the rarified world of wine, and not just any wine, but the kind made from grapes left to rot by design. There are rumors of a grape, long thought vanished, that has reappeared in Italy, its northernmost edge … so Jim Bascule is sent to steal it. He has never stolen anything before; he barely drinks wine; but his heart has just been broken, and he’s up for anything. Off we go!
And, an Easter egg for Penumbra readers: this story clarifies Sourdough’s connection to the Penumbraverse.
Along the way, we’ll learn more about a certain charismatic goop.
November 2022, Berkeley