Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Review: SOURDOUGH by Robin Sloan


Rating: 4.75/5 stars

This book has solidified Robin Sloan as an auto-buy author for me. 

I loved Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore so much, so I wanted to check out more works from the author. Sourdough is Sloan's only other novel (although he does have a couple of short stories), so I decided to pick it up even though I do not bake and know nothing about baking bread. 

This book was fabulous. I never knew a book about a woman baking bread could be so enjoyable. Sloan's writing is exquisite and honestly why I think I love his books so much. This novel was also super funny, and I laughed out loud multiple times while reading it. 

Sourdough is about a woman named Lois who is gifted a sourdough starter by a pair of mysterious brothers before they move across the world, and their plea to Lois is to keep the starter alive no matter what. Feed it, play it music, and learn to bake with it. 

These brothers belong to an ancient (fictitious) culture called the Mazg, and I loved seeing that culture woven throughout the novel. They give Lois a CD of Mazg music for her to play to the sourdough starter, and in the audiobook, you can actually hear a little bit of that music. I absolutely love multimedia aspects in books or audiobooks. And what's cooler is that there are exclusive audio-only chapters in Sourdough's audiobook! So of course I had to listen to the whole novel, and it was a wonderful experience. 

Robin Sloan himself has a background in technology and it shows in his novels, which I think is only an asset to his writing. He wrote this really fascinating article on the production of the machine-created sounds present throughout the audiobook, which make up the Mazg music. It's not too long and totally worth a read if you enjoyed the book: 

Sourdough is definitely more fiction than fantasy, but I would say it leans into magical realism a little bit. Lois's sourdough starter isn't exactly magical, but it also kind of is. It's a weird book but in the most pleasant way possible. I absolutely love Sloan's writing style and I will read anything he writes. I definitely encourage you to check out this novel and his debut novel as well; both are amazing. 

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