Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley reviews Kitchens of the Great Midwest for The Guardian.


Washington Post

Read the review by Nora Pouillon and Shawn Willis


OPRAH  Review by Dawn Raffel



Review by Emma Herdman



Review    by Tim Walker


Los Angeles Magazine

Read the review by Marielle Wakim


Tampa Bay Times 

By  Colette Bancroft




“A Great American Novel in the fullest sense of the term. Everything you want a book to be.”—Ben Loory, author of  Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

“Kitchens of the Great Midwest  is a big-hearted, funny, and class-transcending pleasure. It’s also both a structural and empathetic tour de force, stepping across worlds in the American midwest, and demonstrating with an enviable tenderness and ingenuity the tug of war between our freedom to pursue our passions and our obligations to those we love.”—Jim Shepard,  author of  Project X and National Book Award finalist  Like You’d Understand, Anyway

“Tender, funny, and moving, J. Ryan Stradal's debut novel made me crave my mother's magic cookie bars...and every good tomato I've ever had the privilege of eating.  Kitchens of the Great Midwest manages to be at once sincere yet sharply observed, thoughtful yet swiftly paced, and the lives of its fallible, realistic, and complicated characters mattered to me deeply. It's a fantastic book.”— Edan Lepucki, bestselling author of  California

“In  Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a charming, fast-moving round robin tale of food, sensuality and Midwestern culture, Mr. Stradal has delivered one extremely tasty, well-seasoned debut in what is sure to be a long and savory career.”—Janet Fitch, author  of  White Oleander

“From the quite literally burning passions of a lonely eleven-year-old girl with an exceptional palate, to the ethical dilemmas behind a batch of Blue Ribbon Peanut Butter Bars, J. Ryan Stradal writes with a special kind of meticulous tenderness—missing nothing and accepting everything. A superbly gratifying debut.”—Meg Howrey, author of  The Crane’s Dance

“An impossible-to-put-down, one-of-a-kind novel. The prose is beautiful, the characters memorable, and the plot is surprising at every turn. I have never read a book quite like this—and neither, I'll bet, have you. This stunning debut announces J. Ryan Stradal as a first-rate voice in American fiction. This is a wildly creative, stunningly original, and very moving novel. I can't wait to see what Stradal does next.”— Rob Roberge, author of  The Cost of Living


Library Journal

*Stradal, J. Ryan. Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Pamela Dorman: Viking. Jul. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780525429142. $27.95; 

ebk. ISBN 9780698196513. F

Renowned chef Eva Thorvald commands $10,000 per couple for exclusive, destination dinner parties that leave guests swooning. But how did she develop her discerning palate and culinary chops? What made her into the sensitive, beloved genius she is today? Each chapter, told from a different person’s viewpoint, presents a phase in Eva’s life, going back to her infancy when her father first introduced her to braised pork shoulder (puréed) and heirloom moonglow tomatoes. Though Eva’s life is at turns tragic—her mother left the family when she was a baby, for starters—she always has her fascination with food to sustain her. At age 11, Eva grows hydroponic chocolate habaneros in her closet and uses them to take revenge on bullies. In high school, she experiences her first kiss and her first grilled walleye. By her twenties, Eva is working as a sous chef while struggling to cover medical bills for her adopted father. Eva perseveres and eventually thrives, surrounding herself with friends and family who love her and support her artistry. VERDICT Stradal is a confident first novelist, crafting characters who are singular, sometimes unlikable but always human. Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. A standout. [See Prepub Alert, 2/1/15.]—Christine Perkins, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA

What we eat shapes our lives. While we often place the focus on how our present eating habits affect our overall health, the foods of our childhood have a deep impact on our psyches, perhaps none more so than whichever regional cuisine we grow up eating. Food lays the framework for J. Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a debut novel reflecting his Minnesotan roots and featuring a collection of characters who exhibit the stalwart natures, deep traditions and lovable quirks native to the American Midwest.
— Shelf Awareness

BOOK   Riot

Book  Riot  reviews (and cooks from) Kitchens of the Great Midwest.