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The Banquet of Esther Rosenbaum

Authors: Penny Simpson

Published by Y Lolfa

ISBN: 9780955527234

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This is a novel about exile, told by a Jewish chef who uses extraordinary recipes as a subversive form of storytelling. Set on the eve of world war, it brings together the burlesque and the tragic, drawing on historical characters such as Greta Garbo and kabarett legend Klabund, in addition to the atmosphere and cultural innovations of 1920s Berlin.

Esther Rosenbaum could give Nigella Lawson a run for her money: she is the creator of chocolate hearts stuffed with saffron pen nibs, jugged hares served in toy drums and an edible Cuckoo Clock, filled with marzipan birds that hide a terrible secret. All is served up at a very special banquet in an inflation-hungry city edging towards disaster... 2

"[An] extravaganza where the real and the imagined take turn and turn about... sumptuously detailed and fantastical... [this novel is] at once full of disturbing delicacy, and at the same time [forceful]... [marked by its] humour, verve and hallucinatory strangeness." — Clare Morgan, Times Literary Supplement

"A remarkable novel...[set against]the resistible rise of Nazi thuggery... The fact that [chef] Esther is also anorexic adds a contemporary twist... Comparisons with magic realism come immediately to mind, and the author manages to balance the fantastical elements with the gritty realism of the descent into fascism... the real and imaginary characters are equally magical, as are the incredible creations of this precursor of today's celebrity chefs." — Morning Star

“Casts an intoxicating spell, blending tragedy, satire and magic realism to create a sensuous exploration of food, revolution and the resurrection of community through memory.” — New Welsh Review

“Simpson takes full advantage of [the] possibilities [for lovers of the absurd and grotesque]... an intriguing first novel.” Marta Segal Block, www.booklistonline.com

“Moving and inspiring... very much recommended reading.” James A Cox, Midwest Book Review

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