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Excerpt from Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Land of Milk and Honey

A Novel

by C Pam Zhang

Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang X
Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang
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  • Published:
    Sep 2023, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


On my second pass, I spotted a box behind the door. Impress me, this note said. Inside were flour, vanilla, eggs.

I'd expected a test, of course: a textbook omelet, or a flawless consommé to prove the French training the job demanded. Pastry, no. Giddiness abandoned me as I unpacked baking soda, sugar, milk. Even the voluptuousness of the butter couldn't distract from thoughts of my spotty experience in pâtisserie, and the precarity of my visa, and what would happen were I turned away—and then I was no longer thinking because at the bottom of the box I touched something as warm as skin, as yielding as a woman's inner thigh: strawberries.

Amen, I heard myself say, wet-mouthed. I was surprised my breath didn't smudge the air. Red: that color of desire. I began again and said the whole prayer, Our Father through daily bread. Not my words. They belonged to a pastry chef I'd loved, a lapsed Catholic who rediscovered his faith each morning as he fingered the day's shipment of fruit, and forgot it anew each afternoon as we fucked among the butterand jam. He was the first to take seriously my appetites, my ambitions. He never stored a strawberry cold. Close to the stem, he said, closest to the earth, their perfume is complex, not sugar: closer to flesh, the flesh of a loved one, not sanitized, not anodyne, but full of many waters. Strawberries and spring, strawberries and musk, strawberries and sex flooded back as I crushed my tongue to sugar. I'd come to that countryhardly daring for bitter green and here, now, this rupturing sweetness. I couldn't remember what hour it was, how many time zones I'd crossed, when I'd last eaten. For years I'd fed, survived, swallowed my portions of gray—but had I hungered for pleasure?

Excerpted from Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang. Copyright © 2023 by C Pam Zhang. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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