Synopses & Reviews
“Sassy, brash, acrobatic and colorful . . . I want to read it again and again.” —Time
“Impressive . . . Soffers style is natural and assured.” —Meg Wolitzer, All Things Considered, NPR
Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks to earn the love of her distracted mother, a chef, who is now packing her off to boarding school. Desperate to prove herself, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mothers ideal meal. She signs up for cooking lessons from Victoria, an Iraqi-Jewish immigrant profoundly shaken by her husbands death. Soon these two women develop a deeper bond while their concoctions—cardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, and masgouf—bake in Victorias kitchen. But their individual endeavors force a reckoning with the past, the future, and the truth—whatever it might be.
In Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots we see how food sustains not just our bodies, but our hopes as well. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom.
“A profound and necessary new voice. Soffers prose is as controlled as it is fresh, as incisive as it is musical. Soffer has arrived early, with an orchestra of talent at her disposal.” —Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
“Moving [and] extraordinary.” —Atlantic
“A work of beauty in words . . . Soffer is a master artist painting the hidden hues of the human soul.” —New York Journal of Books
Finalist for the Kiriyama Prize for Fiction World Gourmand Award Winner
"Stunning... will really make your mouth water."
-Entertainment Weekly "Entertaining and learned… the perfect leisure read…effortless… profound… delicious."
-Wall Street Journal "The most thorough explanation of Chinese food Ive ever read in the English language."
-Ruth Reichl, NPR "A dazzling journey… a feast… a page turner both exciting and wise."
-David Henry Hwang "Food and travel writing at its best… engaging, inventive, and incredibly informative."
-Booksense "It doesnt seem quite fair for an author to be as skilled…as Nicole Mones. Entrances."
-Seattle Times "Will transport you… you wont want to put the book down…"
-NW Asian Weekly "A masterpiece for Chinese food."
-Edouard Cointreau, judges panel, World Gourmand Award "Subtle…meticulously researched… will entice. Avoid reading while hungry."
-Kirkus Reviews "Sumptuous... tantalizing. Early in her visit, Maggie scoffs at the idea that food can heal the human heart. Mones smartly proves her wrong."
-Publishers Weekly "Crackling with energy and ambition.. will delight… erudite details and butter-smooth prose."
-Diana Abu-Jaber "Maybe you never considered the imperial heights of Chinese cuisine. Nicole Mones can change that with the flip of a page."
-Charlotte Observer "Outstanding and beautifully written."
-Willamette Week Erudite and entertaining…mouthwatering details on one of the worlds greatest cuisines."
-Northwest Asian Times "Captivating…evocative… admirably adept…invaluably quirky knowledge about Chinese culture and food. "
-New York Times Book Review "Delicious… deftly portrays complexity and passion of a cross-cultural love affair… and the rarefied and competitive world of Chinese haute cuisine, a subtle complex art that reached its apogee in the court of the Emperor and was nearly obliterated in Maos Cultural Revolution."
Judges Citation, Kiriyama Prize "Delicious…reveals the sophistication of an ancient culture but also its corruption, cronyism, and poverty. "
"Soffer's breathtaking prose interweaves delectable descriptions of food with a profoundly redemptive story about loss, self-discovery, and acceptance."
—O: The Oprah Magazine
"Sassy, brash, acrobatic and colorful. . . I want to read it again and again—a novel about an elderly Iraqi Jewish immigrant and a 14-year-old pain addict, a novel of redemption and joy, a novel of history and belonging, beautifully written and sharply felt. It is a love song to both American and Iraqi culture, a sly political allegory and a homage to loneliness."
—Colum McCann, Time
"In this novel of shifting point of views, you want to linger longest with Lorca; both her shortcomings and her desires are so identifiable you cant help but root for her."
"Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is an astounding accomplisment for a young, new voice. Undoubtedly this is the beginining of a spectacular career."
"Told in Victoria and Lorca's alternating first-person voices, the character driven novel… offers fully realized, multidimensional characters who invite empathy and compassion."
"Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is an exceptional novel, filled with well-wrought characters and sharp, beautiful prose. This profound story of two lonely people who find common ground in food, told in Soffer's singular voice, is unforgettable."
"An unhappy teen and a shellshocked widow make a vital connection, though not the one they initially think, in Soffers somber debut....Well-written and atmospheric."
"An incredibly talented and promising new author. Soffer's writing. . . sears across the page."
"This powerful debut sheds light on the meaning and power of family, whether its members are blood-related or “created” by nonrelatives. Food is what strengthens relationships here. . . However, it is not just the love of food but understanding and acceptance that help to make this such a lovely novel."
—Library Journal, starred review
"Lovers of food-centered fiction should find some nourishment in Soffers debut."
"This first novel by Jessica Soffer is a work of beauty in words. There is no dead wood in this story; not a word is indispensable. Ms. Soffer is a master artist painting the hidden hues of the human soul. Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is an intelligent work in the vein of Azar Nafisi where the humanity of the characters transcends cultural or national differences and illustrates commonalities."
—New York Journal of Books
"Soffer's descriptions of food as well as emotional connections are richly layered."
"Soffers wonderful debut paints an elegant portrait of two women lost in the crush, who find themselves and each other through food. Delicious in more ways than one."
"A poignant story of love, acceptance and memory. . . Beautifully written with a deep understanding of both woman and girl, the book is a first novel for Jessica Soffer, daughter of an Iraqi Jewish artist, whose imagination and versatility bode well for her future."
"Lush and layered...This is story about family and love, and how food feeds both of these, but also a story of loss and pain and the empty stomachs of those still learning how to feel. For that I find it, much like life, alive and sobering, buoyant and blue, at times dark, but only until the light fills the room."
“[A story] of love, craving and family lost and gained, all through the experience of food — particularly the tangy, smoky, cardamom and saffron-spiced dishes of the Persian Gulf....[Soffer's] writing is as painful as it is exquisite, and [her book] exposes the raw power of love."
"What makes a family? Where do we find our sustenance? Jessica Soffer examines the often debated questions with artful storytelling. She calls on all of our senses to consider the age old issue of nature vs. nurture. But food, laden with history and culture, the legendary path to the heart, is the medium. Mix in a very needy cast of characters and the recipe for a good tale is perfected."
—Jewish Book World
"A delectable tale of the families we choose...indeed, we root for all of Soffers rich and complex characters."
"A profound and necessary new voice. Soffer's prose is as controlled as it is fresh, as incisive as it is musical. Soffer has arrived early, with an orchestra of talent at her disposal."
"Lit by prose of startling beauty and originality, Jessica Soffers novel of loss, love, food, and finding family is insightful and, as the story unfolds, increasingly moving. This is that rare debut with the capacity to genuinely satisfy the broadest swath of readers—from foodies to poets, mothers to daughters, solitary souls to friends debating subjects close to their hearts. She is a writer to watch; this is a story that matures and expands with each page."
—Nicole Mones, author of The Last Chinese Chef
"This lovely book is the story of lost souls hanging on to each other for dear life, then finding hope and healing. An emotional page-turner with characters who touched my heart and soon felt like old friends, it commandeered my time until the sweet and satisfying ending. Hard to believe such a wise book is a first novel. Heres hoping there's much more to come from this wonderful writer."
—Bo Caldwell, author of The Distant Land of My Father and City of Tranquil Light
"This beautiful, beautiful book calls to mind The Elegance of the Hedgehog, for its artistry and heart, and for its two unlikely soul mates—one old, one young, both harboring private grief, shaping their lives around what is missing, looking for families fate has denied them. A gifted storyteller, Soffer writes with a rare combination of fearlessness and compassion; she has a sage's ability to find absurdity and humor in sorrow. Her characters, as familiar as our own imperfect faces in the mirror, remind us to forgive ourselves our foibles: after all, hope—and the need for human connection—makes fools of us all. I dare anyone to barricade their heart against this enchanting novel."
—Stephanie Kallos, author of Broken for You and Sing Them Home
"I devoured this mouth-watering story of self-discovery, one as deep-rooted as an ancient fruit tree perpetually blossoming anew. With prose sharp as a paring knife, Soffer shows us that love transcends cultural boundaries, age, old wounds and new seasons. So, too, does this novel. A savory debut!"
—Sarah McCoy, author of The Baker's Daughter
"Jessica Soffer's gorgeous and word-wise novel shows us how a single sentence can contain wonders, and a kitchen can contain epics; this is a fantastic debut."
—Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances
"Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots is elegant, sensual, surprising and rich. Jessica Soffer delivers a world to us, populated with indelible characters whose fates, as they become entwined, spur us to read fast, faster, except to do so would be to miss the beauty of Soffer's language, which is to be savored. This is a superb debut."
This alluring novel of friendship, love, and cuisine brings the best-selling author of Lost in Translation
and A Cup of Light
to one of the great Chinese subjects: food. As in her previous novels, Mones's captivating story also brings into focus a changing China — this time the hidden world of high culinary culture.
When Maggie McElroy, a widowed American food writer, learns of a Chinese paternity claim against her late husband's estate, she has to go immediately to Beijing. She asks her magazine for time off, but her editor counters with an assignment: to profile the rising culinary star Sam Liang.
In China Maggie unties the knots of her husband's past, finding out more than she expected about him and about herself. With Sam as her guide, she is also drawn deep into a world of food rooted in centuries of history and philosophy. To her surprise she begins to be transformed by the cuisine, by Sam's family — a querulous but loving pack of cooks and diners — and most of all by Sam himself. The Last Chinese Chef is the exhilarating story of a woman regaining her soul in the most unexpected of places.
This exhilarating story is the transporting tale of how the sensual, romantic elements of haute Chinese cuisine become the perfect ingredients to lift the troubled soul of a grieving American woman.
Reading group favorite Nicole Mones transports readers to the fascinating world of elite cuisine in modern China with the story of an American food writer traveling in Beijing. Recently widowed Maggie MacElroy is unexpectedly called to China to settle a claim against her late husband's estate. Shocked to discover that he may have led a secret life, she immerses herself in the comforting distraction of work. She is sent by the magazine she works for to profile Sam, a Chinese American who is the last in a line of gifted chefs in China tracing back to the imperial palace. As Sam prepares an elaborate banquet, his audition for the Cultural Olympics, Maggie learns to appreciate the beauty and balance, ritual and meaning of Chinese cooking and culture — and finds the secret ingredient that will bring solace to her heart.
Infused with themes of tradition and obligation, belonging and connection, Mones's satisfying, sensual novel just might be the perfect leisure read . . . This delicious book will leave you with an intense craving for perfectly prepared Chinese food (Wall Street Journal).
In her satisfying, sensual third novel, Nicole Mones takes readers inside the hidden world of elite cuisine in modern China through the story of an American food writer in Beijing. When recently widowed Maggie McElroy is called to China to settle a claim against her late husbands estate, she is blindsided by the discovery that he may have led a double life. Since work is all that will keep her sane, her magazine editor assigns her to profile Sam, a half-Chinese American who is the last in a line of gifted chefs tracing back to the imperial palace. As she watches Sam gear up for Chinas Olympic culinary competition by planning the banquet of a lifetime, she begins to see past the cuisines artistry to glimpse its coherent expression of Chinese civilization. It is here, amid lessons of tradition, obligation, and human connection that she finds the secret ingredient that may yet heal her heart.
From a debut author already praised by Colum McCann as a "profound and necessary new voice" comes a novel about two women adrift in New York—an Iraqi Jewish widow and the latchkey daughter of a chef—who find each other and a new kind of family through their shared love of cooking.
About the Author
Nicole Mones spent eighteen years working in China and she brings to her fiction an in-depth understanding of the country and its culture. She is the author of the The Last Chinese Chef, a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize, Lost in Translation, winner of the Kafka Prize, and A Cup of Light. From 1999-2008 Mones also wrote about Chinese cuisine for Gourmet magazine, and her nonfiction writing on China has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.