In Robin Sloan’s latest novel, Sourdough, Lois Clary is a 20-something Michigan transplant, well on her way to being one of the rich and geeky residents of Silicon Valley. Working hard at promising start-up General Dexterity, she has joined the techie milieu with her overpriced apartment where she hardly spends any time and a meal-replacement slurry she consumes two to three times a week. But like all young people starting off, Lois is content and hasn’t yet felt the void of being the proverbial peg in the unstoppable machine.
An epiphany transpires in the most unassuming way, when Lois takes possession of a sourdough starter from the two guys who used to run her favorite neighborhood take-out joint. Lois knows nothing about being a foodie, but even she can’t deny the mysterious vibes from this starter, which seems to beckon her with its singing and talking.
And so Lois bakes. Starting in the tiny virgin oven of her apartment to a brick oven she builds herself in the backyard to the industrial kitchen of a peculiar collective called the Marrow Fair, the sourdough ends up being more consuming than the high-paying job that landed her here in the first place.
But this isn’t a story of how to give up your day job and start a neighborhood bakery. Sloan has imagined a funny and curious novel unlike anything else, a perfect combination of self-discovery through all sorts of weird passions. Like truly good sourdough, this namesake is the perfectly tangy, chewy and airy addition to anyone’s reading list—minus the gluten and calories, of course.