June 15, 2021
We are thrilled to announce that Carolyn Niethammer‘s A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary Heritage, and and Alberto Álvaro Ríos‘s A Good Map of All Things: A Picaresque Novel were selected as top picks for the Pima County Library’s Southwest Books of the Year 2021.
Gregory McNamee: “Tucson is a food city, boasting, as Carolyn Niethammer writes, the best 23 square miles of Mexican food north of Mexico. It is also the first US venue designated as a City of Gastronomy by the United Nations. Why should that be? Niethammer explains: the honor grows from having a food tradition that extends back thousands of years, making use of hundreds of desert plants, and then adding on to it, like so many ingredients in a good bowl of cocido, elements from many other food traditions and cultures. We can eat food from just about every corner of the world here, and we’ve made it part of an almost inexhaustible culinary lexicon. You’ll want to try Niethammer’s carefully curated recipes—and develop a greener thumb by growing ingredients yourself and a broadened geography by visiting the growers and chefs she highlights. Every Southwestern city—every city, period—needs a book like hers, and it’s Tucson’s good fortune to have this.
From Helene Woodhams: “A small town nestled in the Pimería Alta of northern Mexico is home to folks as warmly engaging as they are idiosyncratic in this delightful novel by award-winning poet and author Alberto Álvaro Ríos. Midway through the 20th century, modern ways have just begun to creep into lives long accustomed to swaying in time to the rhythms of tradition, and as a result the local public science society has few members. Far from mundane, the simplicity of the town’s everyday-ness is rendered exquisite in Ríos’s able hands: love emerges and endures, faith is uncompromising, and a good day is one in which nothing much happens. The characters glide in and out of each other’s orbit, weaving their individual stories into a communal chronicle. The narrative is particularly elegant, marked by a poetic charm that makes this memorable work both a comfort and a joy to read–but this is not surprising, coming as it does from Arizona’s first Poet Laureate.