In brief: Eat a Peach; Lullaby Beach; Set My Heart to Five – reviews

A humorous foodie memoir, a gritty family saga and a playful vision of a robotic future

The life of chef and, now, memoirist David Chang is ‘a wild ride’
The life of chef and, now, memoirist David Chang is ‘a wild ride’. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP
The life of chef and, now, memoirist David Chang is ‘a wild ride’. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP
Sun 14 Feb 2021 08.00 EST

Eat a Peach
David Chang

Square Peg, £20, pp304

In 2004, Chang opened his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in downtown Manhattan. He’s gone on to create a global brand, adding cookbooks and a Netflix show – a wild ride, for sure, and yet a more reluctant memoirist you won’t find. “I just don’t understand my appeal,” he begins. Any number of foodie adjectives might be applied to the brisk, humorous pages that follow, from searing to spicy. There are insights into his Korean-American upbringing, struggles with anger, depression and booze, and fond nods to his dear pal Anthony Bourdain. Chatty footnotes feel like those little treats that arrive with the bill.

Lullaby Beach
Stella Duffy

Virago, £16.99, pp256

Whether it’s down to the sure rhythm of Duffy’s faultless storytelling or the fadedbackdrop of the south coast of England, her latest novel is a comforting tale despite some gritty subject matter, which includes backstreet abortions and trauma. It opens as eightysomething Kitty takes her own life, leaving behind not just a gaping hole in the world of her two great-nieces, but a mystery, too. Four dates contained in a note seem to hold the key, concealing secrets that bind three generations of Beth and Sara’s family. Hopping between the 1950s and the present day, it’s wise, generous and intensely atmospheric.

Set My Heart to Five
Simon Stephenson

4th Estate, £8.99, pp448 (paperback)

If you’re over 2021 already, how about jet-packing into 2054? Or perhaps not, because as this delightfully absurd novel reveals, we humans will have locked ourselves out of the internet by then, and if you’re wondering where the moon is, Elon Musk incinerated it. Meanwhile, it’s androids like our affable narrator, Jared, that are trapped in the role of second-class citizens. But Jared has developed feelings, and with them a plan to end the oppression of his fellow bots. His weapon? The movies, of course. It all makes for a funny, whimsical caper, laced with lightly philosophical insights into storytelling and human frailty.

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