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Delicious Foods

A Novel
Narrated by: James Hannaham
Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Categories: Fiction, African-American
4 out of 5 stars (178 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Held captive by her employers--and by her own demons--on a mysterious farm, a widow struggles to reunite with her young son in this uniquely American story of freedom, perseverance, and survival.

Darlene, once an exemplary wife and a loving mother to her young son, Eddie, finds herself devastated by the unforeseen death of her husband. Unable to cope with her grief, she turns to drugs and quickly forms an addiction. One day she disappears without a trace.

Unbeknownst to 11-year-old Eddie, now left behind and in a panic-stricken search for her, Darlene has been lured away with false promises of a good job and a rosy life. A shady company named Delicious Foods shuttles her to a remote farm, where she is held captive, performing hard labor in the fields to pay off the supposed debt for her food, lodging, and the constant stream of drugs the farm provides to her and the other unfortunates imprisoned there.

In Delicious Foods James Hannaham tells the gripping story of three unforgettable characters: a mother, her son, and the drug that threatens to destroy them. Through Darlene's haunted struggle to reunite with Eddie, through the efforts of both to triumph over those who would enslave them, and through the irreverent and mischievous voice of the drug that narrates Darlene's travails, Hannaham's daring and shape-shifting prose infuses this harrowing experience with grace and humor.

The desperate circumstances that test the unshakeable bond between this mother and son unfold into myth, and Hannaham's treatment of their ordeal spills over with compassion. Along the way we experience a tale at once contemporary and historical that wrestles with timeless questions of love and freedom, forgiveness and redemption, tenacity and the will to survive.

©2015 James Hannaham (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"James Hannaham's new novel is a tour de force. Gripping, haunting, and deeply moving, it beguiles the reader with the urgent immediacy of its characters' lives, while also reverberating with universal themes of freedom and enslavement, love and survival." (Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize winner for A Visit From the Goon Squad)
"Author James Hannaham--who is clearly comfortable behind the mic--skillfully narrates a story of human exploitation, addiction, and grief." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing! I love these characters and their story.

I love this book so much. I was initially not engaged with the narrator, it's often a mistake when the author narrates their own work; but, as the story progressed I fell in love with these characters and the author's portrayal became more natural and I understood what he was going for. Tuck and Sirius are so complex and I rooted for both of them. Much of the story is very hard and graphic, yet it didn't feel gratuitous or unrealistic for the situations.
I love this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Weird, Wacky, Wonderful, and Heartbreaking

Delicious Foods opens with a young man driving a car with his hands chopped off, and just gets better from there.

After his father is murdered by racist bigots, Eddie's mother Darlene spirals into depression and a crack cocaine addiction. One night she's tricked into signing a contract to work on a Louisiana farm where she's held captive as essentially a modern-day slave. Eddie, her eleven year old son, abandoned in Texas, is left to fend for himself and to try to find out what happened to her.

This book is weird, wacky, wonderful, heartbreaking, sad, and an all-around pleasure (except when it's devastating). It's told from the perspective of multiple narrators, one of whom is crack cocaine. It's experimental, but also somehow completely accessible, funny, and warm.

I'm so glad a reading buddy put Delicious Foods on my radar, because I had heard literally nothing about it, and it ended up being my favorite book published in 2015. 5 MILLION STARS!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Authors Should not Narrate

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

OK, the story is great and I probably should have read Delicious Foods and not listened to it. Why? As I said in the headline, authors should not narrate their books... they are writers, not performers. The author, who does indeed narrate the book, has the annoying habit of snorting out some words and phrases. It's subtle, but there nonetheless. Kind of like that irksome drip that catches your attention, or that irritating sound coming from under the dashboard... once it reaches your consciousness , you can't seem to ignore it.

The story itself is great and Hannaham is a gifted writer and so I anxiously await his next piece of work. Whom narrates will determine if I listen or read!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Story

a bit off the beaten path but an amazing story worth the listen. would definitely recommend. hopefully this book will bring heightened awareness to issues that happen all over the world even here in the United States.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Best book I've listened to.

Just amazing. It works well as a story of these characters, but can easily also function as a diagnosis of the failure of the American dream, and the many places it (and people) can break down. Delicious Foods comes into the discussion with Infinite Jest about the title of greatest American novel of the last 25 years.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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You need to read this!

This is, simply put, the best book I’ve read in years. Ignore all the reviews- this is a dark, modern, funny fairytale. A pair of lovers anger a witch and she curses them. Their son is aided in his quest by a wandering minstrel. A dead man is transformed into a bird. Above all of this, making sharp funny quips is Crack who becomes something of an Ariel, a magic spirit pointing out the softness in being part of the human race. This was absolutely worth every penny.

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  • 04-16-19

Wow.

I accidentally ordered this instead of a Ruth Reichl audiobook with similar title.

A great mistake as I never would’ve otherwise come across this and it is one of the best listens ever. Holy moly, it really engaged me. Terrifying, intriguing, humorous, witty. The narration was fabulous. I do not know if it would’ve reached me so if I were reading the book. I am obviously inexperienced at reviewing as I really have nothing of use to say. Been listening to audiobooks for many years and this is my first written review - I just had to say something positive about it for the record.

It reminds me that there are many great books out there whose path I will never cross (‘cept by accident) because they don’t fit into my ‘interests’.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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excellent, creative tale

narration was excellent. I finished listening in a couple of days, definitely a page turner. Darlene and Eddie's relationship and mother and son connection was heartbreaking. Darlene's demons were most memorable- from the hilarious voice of Scotty to the impact of Nat and trauma on her life. Loved this book. A great read.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fascinating opening, disappointing development

The issues of systemic social injustice, substance addiction, and slavery are ones that I am usually passionate to read about in print. The unusual opening chapter also caught my attention. Furthermore, I felt that "Scotty" (the drug crack) narrating certain chapters was an interesting concept. However, as the novel progressed I felt this particular narrator came across more and more as a distasteful and stale additive which really didn't help the plot flesh out much. Also, the storyline did not develop much to keep up with my high initial expectations. The pace was unsteady throughout. In the end, the author narrating his own audiobook didn't help matters much either. I doubt I'll be drawn to him again.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Tedious

I am glad I read Delicious Foods. I really cared about the characters, though the story became somewhat bogged down and tedious. I enjoyed that the drug was a major character, especially with a sense of humor. James Hannaham could have told the story in fewer words.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful