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Extended Audio Sample Kitchens of the Great Midwest: A Novel, by J. Ryan Stradal Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: J. Ryan Stradal Narrator: Amy Ryan, Michael Stuhlbar Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Kitchens of the Great Midwest, about a young woman with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the iconic chef behind the country’s most coveted dinner reservation, is the summer’s most hotly-anticipated debut.

When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.

Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life—its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A sweet and savory treat.”


  • “The author’s gentle skewering of foodie snobs is spot on, and the blend of humor, warmth, and longing that he uses to portray family relationships make the book insightful and endearing. Savor it page by page.”


  • “An impressive feat of narrative jujitsu…that keeps readers turning the pages too fast to realize just how ingenious they are.”

    New York Times Book Reviews

  • “Kitchens of the Great Midwest is a terrific reminder of what can be wrested from suffering and struggle—not only success but also considerable irony, a fair amount of wisdom and a decent meal.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Stradal’s first novel is a refreshing and brisk read, with a sophisticated sense of..[the] glories of foodie culture.”


  • “Eva herself is a compelling, deliciously flawed character.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Narrators Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg…shine as they use subtle pacing and tone to portray the unique personalities of each character, adding just the slightest hints of a Midwestern accent to give authenticity and differentiation. Stradal’s skillful writing delivered by accomplished narrators offers listeners a debut performance to savor.”


  • “Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. A standout.”

    Library Journal

  • “The ultimate homage to the merits of the culinary experience, with just a soupçon of überfoodie-culture satire thrown in for a bit of zest.”


  • “This novel is quirky and colorful…With well-drawn characters and mouthwatering descriptions of meals, Kitchens of the Great Midwest will appeal to readers who like vivid storytelling. Foodies will also enjoy this delicious tale.”


  • “[A] vibrant first novel…The unusual setting, embraceable characters and mouthwatering recipes add up to a can’t-miss debut.”


  • “Food and family intertwine in this promising debut that features triumph, heartbreak, and even recipes.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A LibraryReads Pick for July 2015
  • One of the BBC’s Best Books to Read in July
  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick for Best Books of the Month for August 2015
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for Debut Authors
  • A BookPage Best Book of 2015
  • Audible’s Best Audiobooks Editor’s Pick for 2015
  • Finalist for the 2016 Indies Choice Award for Adult Debut
  • Winner of the 2016 Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards for Fiction
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