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Berkeley Novelist Robin Sloan Turns Bread into the Stuff of Otherworldly Mystery

Sourdough is a triumph of imagination.

SLIDESHOW

Robin Sloan.

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Photo: Courtesy of MCD

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Read more from the Fall Arts Preview from our September 2017 issue here.

When last we checked in with Robin Sloan, his 2012 debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), was getting written up by Roxane Gay in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, where she praised his story of a graphic designer encountering a secret world of bibliophiles as a riveting mix of high and low tech.

In his latest, Sourdough (Sept. 5, MCD), Sloan, who lives in Berkeley, has gone back to the same high-low well, and once again the results are delightful. Lois Clary works as a robotics programmer in San Francisco, eating a nutritious yet disgusting goo for lunch and working round the clock, until she receives a magical sourdough bread starter from two brothers who are forced to close their mystical takeout shop and return to their home country. She begins baking bread with strange powers in a clandestine warehouse, where she discovers the philosophical and culinary consequences of enhancing food with new technology. It’s equal measures techie and foodie fodder, a perfect parable for our times. 

 

Originally published in the September issue of San Francisco 

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