I am BEYOND excited for this post for a million reasons. For the first, um THIS IS CHLOE GONG?! You know, the author of These Violent Delights one of my favorite books of 2020. Secondly, Chloe had the amazing idea to pair YA novels and food – prepare to drool.
These Violent Delights
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
Bring on the food!
Xiao Long Bao 小笼包 – A Book That’s Going To Be A Classic
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
There are some books that perfectly balance the sort of story you want to recommend to everyone for leisure reading and the sort of story that would be wonderful on a school reading list. I wanted to wrap the main character in a blanket, but she would fully just brush my blanket off and charge into the world with her head held high. A perfect pairing with the food that everyone across the board adores.
You Tiao 油条 – A Book That Pulls You Right In
The Boy In The Red Dress by Kristin Lambert
Has anyone ever tried taking one bite of a you tiao and then putting it down? No–never in the long, long history of humanity has it ever happened because it’s impossible. This book is the same: a murder mystery with a wonderful cast of characters that you just have to consume in one gulp.
Spring Onion Pancake 葱油饼 – A Book Bursting With Flavor
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
In this, I mean both metaphorical flavor and literal flavor. The drama! The angst! I’ve been waiting my whole life to see an Asian protagonist caught between two hot Asian boys. And the actual Taiwanese street food descriptions? *chefs kiss*
Smoked Fish 熏鱼 – A Book With Tension All The Way Through
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
The atmosphere in this book is unreal. Every page is deliberate about the foggy setting of Joseon-era Korea, and you never forget the sense of danger surrounding the main character – not only because she’s right in the middle of a murder mystery, but because of her role as a servant damo. Pairs perfectly with a dish that crunches from start to finish.
(Gotta rely on good ol’ Google Translate for this one, folks, I can’t find a recipe on the English-speaking side of the internet, but tastiness has no language: https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/31351911)
Vermicelli & Tofu Soup 油豆腐粉丝汤 — A Book That Is Warm
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan (releases 2021)
This book tackles what it means to live for yourself while juggling expectations from culture and family, and is a big dollop of warmth in my stomach. Pairs perfectly with a dish that is not only a tasty adventure in flavor, but is also usually served to push back the cold.
(This one not only got a bit obscure on the English-speaking part of the Internet, but also the recipe-writing part of the Internet, so I’m linking to a very calming and visual video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igqupiXTYCw)
Wine-Stuffed Yuan Zi 酒酿圆子 – A Book That Combines Styles
A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell
This anthology has been described to have some stories sweet with love, some harsh with betrayal, all mixing together to create something special, and so what better food to pair it with than a dish that combines flavors and styles to make something utterly unique in it of itself.
Fried Dumplings/Guo Tie 锅贴 – A Series To Read Altogether
The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong
This list so far has been mostly upcoming or recently released books, but what better way to end it than throwing in a series from the 2010s paranormal era. These books deserved so much more hype for its unconventional look at werewolves and ghosts and all things supernatural, and just like a life without some form of dumplings is sad, a life without this series is sad.
Don’t forget to find These Violent Delights on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.
About the Author
Chloe Gong is an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, double-majoring in English and International Relations. Born in Shanghai and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, she now lives at the top of a crumbling, ivory tower in Philadelphia (also known as student housing).
After devouring the entire YA section of her local library, she started writing her own novels at age 13 to keep herself entertained, and has been highly entertained ever since. Chloe has been known to mysteriously appear by chanting “Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s best plays and doesn’t deserve its slander in pop culture” into a mirror three times. Her debut novel, THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS, is being published by Margaret K. McElderry/S&S in 2020 with a sequel to follow in 2021. She is represented by the wonderful Laura Crockett at TriadaUS Literary Agency.