Delicious Foods




James Hannaham's Delicious Foods is a tour de force, taking characters who normally occupy the hidden labor that makes so much of American culture possible, and putting them at this novel's center.

We start with Eddie, a young man escaping an industrial accident after having lost both hands, and the story of how he lost his hands becomes the unlikely story of the death of his father, a community organizer in Louisiana, his mother's despair turning into an addiction to crack cocaine, and the Delicious Foods of the title is the farm where his mother finds work picking fruit for a high-end gourmet foods supplier. The sections narrated by crack cocaine as a narrator - known in the novel as "Scotty" - bring the novel into the realm of pure genius, and the heartbreak of Eddie's business card, "Handyman With No Hands", becomes a rehistory of the American civil rights movement and structural racism. All of this is made possible by allegory, all while remaining resolutely unsentimental.

The result is heartbreaking, breathtaking, riveting and unforgettable, fiction that succeeds as necessary cultural criticism and a page-turner at the same time.

— Alexander Chee
2016 finalist judge

2016 Fiction Runner-Up

James Hannaham, photo credit Ian Douglas
Click to see award video

(Click photo to see acceptance speech at awards dinner.)

James Hannaham
Delicious Foods

“The fastest way to promote peace is to increase empathy. Fiction provides an expressway to empathy by allowing us to enter other people's minds and understand their experiences, sometimes getting us closer to thinking someone else's thoughts than we ever believed possible. I am very lucky and proud to have been given the opportunity to invade so many people's thoughts and hopefully steer them towards a more compassionate and ethical world. Many thanks to the Dayton Literary Peace Prize committee.”

— James Hannaham              


James Hannaham is the author of the novel God Says No, which was honored by the American Library Association, and Delicious Foods, winner of the 2016 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He holds an MFA from the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and lives in Brooklyn, where he teaches creative writing at the Pratt Institute.


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