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Sourdough : a novel
2017
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Summary

*One of Amazon's 20 Best Books of 2017*

Named one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, San Francisco Chronicle , Barnes & Noble, and Southern Living

In his much-anticipated new novel, Robin Sloan does for the world of food what he did for the world of books in Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her--feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she's providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer's market, and a whole new world opens up.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

Leavened by the same infectious intelligence that made Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, while taking on even more satisfying challenges, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer.

Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Like Sloan's debut, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, this novel twists new and old worlds together. General Dexterity, a robotics company in San Francisco, burns out its bright young employees on 12-hour shifts and feeds them a gray sludge called Slurry. Enter Lois Clary, the company's new software engineer, fresh from Michigan, whose social life is at an all-time low. Alone each night, she cheers up when Beo, the takeout guy, delivers delicious, spicy soup from Clement Street Soup and Sourdough. He's nicknamed her "number one customer!" for her loyalty. But Beo and his brother, the cook, are in a hurry to leave the country, and one evening they deliver more than her order-they give her the family's starter for their sourdough bread and urge her to carry on their tradition. Lois enters the competitive foodie world of hip San Francisco with a recipe from long ago and the means to change her life. She also gets some help from the women of the Lois Club, who offer comic relief and some sage advice. Laced with clever pop culture references, this humorous, richly plotted novel features unforgettable characters and imparts an important lesson: you can't succeed in the modern world without respecting the old one. VERDICT Highly recommended for all YA collections.-Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* The starter comes into Lois' life unexpectedly. She had moved to San Francisco to work as a software engineer, teaching robot arms to perform any job functions you can imagine. Her only comfort after another demanding day was ordering soup and sourdough bread from two brothers running a food-delivery service. But when the brothers are suddenly forced to leave the city, they give Lois the starter they use to make their bread, instructing her to keep it alive. Suddenly her life spins in a different direction. This inventive novel, from the author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore (2012), is filled with crisp humor and weird but endearing characters. As Lois takes her first tentative steps into the world of baking, her loaves appear to have faces in the crust, and the starter Is it singing? takes on a life of its own. Then, after she gains entry into a mysterious underground farmers market on the cutting edge of food technology, demand for her special sourdough begins to rise. At once a parody of startup culture and a foodie romp, Sourdough is an airy delight, perfect for those who like a little magic with their meals, as in Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate (1992).--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2017 Booklist
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