A seemingly effortlessly wise collection of essays that shows again and again the ways writing about food involves more than a story, a political history, or a family legacy, as Ghosh takes the food essay into entirely new directions. The result is a brilliant book about the past and the present that also feels like the future of the form.”Alexander Chee, author, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays
“In Khabaar, Madhushree Ghosh shares her unforgettable story deftly and beautifully, as only a gifted storyteller can. Like the foods that shape and inform Ghosh’s memories and reflections, her intimate, powerful prose is meant to be savored. This memoir, at once global in scope and deeply intimate, is a treasure.”Deesha Philyaw, author, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“I have been an enthusiastic follower of Madhushree Ghosh, and have great admiration for her literary talent. But I was not prepared for this new, very powerful, and entrancing work. I highly recommend it. It’s unforgettable.”Luis Alberto Urrea, author, The House of Broken Angels
“As thought-provoking as it is delicious, joyful, and a delight to read.”Sonia Faleiro, author, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing
“Wildly original. With her scientific sensibility, chef’s palate, and poet’s heart, Madhushree Ghosh has given us a singular and spectacular read.”Mira Jacob, author, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
“Madhushree Ghosh seamlessly blends stories of food and family, longing and grief, to reveal the power of food to connect usto the past, to one another, to our appetites and desires, to that which we wish to say when language fails. A book to read with all your senses, Khabaar will break your heart and make it swell.”Lacy M. Johnson, author, The Reckonings: Essays
“Khabaar crackles with energy and passion. This book engages the reader on many levels: it awakens the senses, heightens awareness of racial and gender disparity, and perhaps above all is a powerful love story between its author and her family and country of origin. Ghosh has written a book that educates as it entertains, which is no easy feat. I am enriched for having read it.”Dani Shapiro, author, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
“Madhushree Ghosh is a talented and exciting voice in the literary field. I’m looking forward to reading everything that she writes now and in the future. This is one writer to watch.”Nayomi Munaweera, author, What Lies Between Us
A memoir weaving the author’s personal history with South Asian food and folkways.
“Food comforts a need that connects us across borders,” writes Ghosh in this well-turned collection of essays combining cuisine with social and personal politics. As a child, the author moved with her family from eastern India to Delhi, and the cultural shock—bigger crowds, different flavors than her Bengali upbringing—prompts her fond recall of food-shopping trips with her father and her lifelong efforts to access the foods she loved most growing up. (The book contains a handful of recipes.) But food, she recognizes, is also often a source of rifts, even violence. In one essay, Ghosh pairs a recollection of her favorite Sikh-owned restaurant in her current home, San Diego, with anti-Sikh attacks in America and India. In another, she examines her strained relationship with her ex-husband’s family while reporting on the rivalry between a pair of Indonesian prata restaurants. Throughout, the book is structured to insist that food is inextricable from larger cultural forces. Each essay shifts across experiences (sometimes abruptly), but Ghosh writes especially well through her memories, from tender (as a child shopping for goat with her father in a bustling Delhi market) to terrifying (desperately escaping a hotel room she was accidentally locked in before a job presentation). Breaking through hotel drywall serves as a metaphor for escaping a husband who’s verbally abusive when he’s not neglectful, a story that in turn is interwoven with another about an Indian chef in San Diego who was murdered by her partner. Ghosh clearly sees the downsides of food culture—indentured servitude, racism, oversugared and watered-down variations of her favorite dishes—but her mood is also often celebratory. She concludes by writing about hosting a Diwali party and reconnecting with food during the pandemic: “Roots, if strong, survive many a pause.”
A likable food memoir from a self-aware and culturally astute author.