Synopses & Reviews
"Funny and moving. After this, nothing will ever taste the same again."--T. C. Boyle
It's 1973, and David Leveraux has landed his dream job as a Flavorist-in-Training, working in the secretive industry where chemists create the flavors for everything from the cherry in your can of soda to the butter on your popcorn.
While testing a new artificial sweetener — "Sweetness #9" — he notices unusual side-effects in the laboratory rats and monkeys: anxiety, obesity, mutism, and a generalized dissatisfaction with life. David tries to blow the whistle, but he swallows it instead.
Years later, Sweetness #9 is America's most popular sweetener — and David's family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his son has stopped using verbs, and his daughter suffers from a generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David's failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the American condition?
David's search for an answer unfolds in this expansive novel that is at once a comic satire, a family story, and a profound exploration of our deepest cultural anxieties. Wickedly funny and wildly imaginative, Sweetness #9 questions whether what we eat truly makes us who we are.
"Sweetness #9 does for flavor science and its sweetly dangerous concoctions what White Noise did for chemical transportation and airborne toxic events — that is, makes them real enough to produce legitimate anxiety and funny enough to make you fall off the couch." Keith Lee Morris, author of The Dart League King
"Sweetness #9 is funny but still human, entertaining but also illuminating, smart but not smug, thought-provoking without lecturing: it's a rare book that does all this at once, and does it so well." Caitlin Horrocks, author of This Is Not Your City
"A truly gifted writer, Stephan Eirik Clark writes with an inventiveness and artistry that few can match." Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
About the Author
Stephan Eirik Clark was born in West Germany and raised between England and the United States. He is the author of the short story collection Vladimir's Mustache. A former Fulbright Fellow to Ukraine, he teaches English at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. This is his first novel.