The first review on the cover of Delicious Foods by James Hannaham reads, “Sensational…you will devour this book,” while that may well be the case, this book will devour you. You will get lost in the story of Eddie, his mother Darlene, and their enslavement at a watermelon plantation named, you guessed it, Delicious Foods. But the story doesn’t start here, the story starts with Darlene and her husband Nat, their love through college, their marriage, and the birth of their only child Eddie. When Darlene is unexpectedly widowed only a few years later, in her grief, she turns to drugs to help her cope. Her addiction puts her in a compromising position and she accepts a job at what sounds like an idyllic farm while her son sets out in search of his missing mother. But the story doesn’t end here, in 400 pages Delicious Foods will take you so far from where you thought you would end up.
Hannaham tells the story through the shifting perspectives of Eddie, Darlene, and her drug of choice. Hannaham uses Eddie and Darlene to weave together a larger cultural criticism about modern slavery and and the cyclic methods that propagate oppression and racism. His use of compact and allegorical prose only intensifies how impactful his writing is.
“You couldn’t hold no shoes responsible for nothing, shoes ain’t got no intentions. But shoes also can’t talk back, they helpless, and what’s helpless always gon take the biggest part of the rage.”
The characters of Delicious Foods and their struggles are so painfully real. They are helpless and take the rage of an entire system built against them, you will feel their frustrations and often times feel helpless yourself and wonder, to yourself and outloud, how anyone could navigate a world that encouraged their failure.
“In Louisiana, a negro could find an igloo faster than justice.”
Delicious Foods is raw and unforgiving in its honesty and grief but it will leave you with a sense of satisfaction, and it will make you check your watermelons for morse code.