11 novels on food, friendship and the myth of the chef

Written by By Lucy Hand, CNN

The relationship between food and fellowship is explored in many books and cartoons. Here are some of our favorites:

The Dinner Party by Jean Hanff Korelitz

This surreal, but tender, novel investigates the way stories pass through the life of one family and end up changing them for better and worse. The family is one of thousands of Jewish refugees exiled from Nazi Germany. Through many paths and meetings — and ending in a cozy attic dinner with memories of past dinners and everyone over the table — the book offers a description of what it meant to experience the “innermost levels of the Jewish experience” with that crowd: family and friends.

1 / 8 The Dinner Party by Jean Hanff Korelitz Gail Cannon serves up a spot-on glimpse of one family’s contemporary New York City life in this New York Times best-selling debut. Credit: Provided by Knopf

Rushdie and Brahms: Stories, Verse, and Poems

A collection of recipes and illustrations that lead up to the musical genius and the beleaguered writer Karl-Heinz Herbert’s marriage, at “great sadness and with great vigor” he works for years. Unhappy with “all the false poems in English,” Herbert retires to Calcutta in search of better ideas. With Hals and Brahms, he rescues them from oblivion, and inadvertently redefines poetic expression in India.

Robson Archer, the maker of these Jenga models, didn’t have much money when he first started, so he studied the way ideas moved through computer code and programmed his first colorful plastic model Jenga pieces. The small box with a wooden block sits in the kitchen for a few years. Credit: Courtesy Robson Archer

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Rereading this delightful tale in the wake of the news of the death of Bambi’s creator and creator of the storybook characters’ designer, Ludwig Bemelmans, has me thinking that Bambi does have to live in some dark place: the estate of abusive parent Christopher Robin Burton, who created the bones, but didn’t share in the success of their “Wallace and Gromit”-like characters, killed Bambi to control the estate. The relationship between the young Bambi, the Penguin products and the “milk-butt [drawn] from his calves” is rife with implied jealousy between son and parent. Alice and the tea party are about getting back to one’s parents. Penguin products, in their efforts to market to a younger audience, also found themselves sliding down a corporate ladder and, in doing so, lost the collective memories of generations.

James Dashner is known for his role in developing The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, 2016’s third and final installment in the Maze Runner series. Credit: Courtesy Paul Oppenheim/Universal Pictures

Mazes of God: Cookbook of Stone and Sand, 4-Row Chardings, and Stone Chardings

This novella, written by James Dashner, is the first of three books — by one author — about 14-year-old Mal, who uses his lunch money for food, but is rather unimpressed with his good fortune: “But please, where was the income we were supposed to collect, from the lunches I spent, so often, (eight hundred cents!)?” Dashner explores life in an all-white, isolated town and the interpersonal issues that ensue when Mal is hired to work for Wicker, a racial minority. Like his books, this book is authentic, intelligent and provocative.

Hansel and Gretel in World War II Germany is a detective story written by Margaret Barrows, who turned the whimsical tale of the two little gingers into a scandalous and starkly realistic account of the plight of fellow Germans during World War II. Credit: Courtesy © Blackstone Books

Hansel and Gretel in World War II Germany is the first detective story written by Margaret Barrows, who turned the whimsical tale of the two little gingers into a scandalous and starkly realistic account of the plight of fellow Germans during World War II. After the unwed miners in the silent film played by Luke Campbell and Basingstoke’s Rags Nagaddas dance to some songs that bar patrons from loudly belting out, Barrows applied the same rules that she had for her characters, changing the contents of Hansel and Gretel’s purse from the usual candy and they’re off on a theatrical quest for whiskey and cheese and singing to all who will listen. There is a lot of dark humor, but Barrows also weaves the story with amazing skill.

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