3.28 (48,233 ratings by Goodreads)
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""Sweetbitter"is a stunning debut novel, one that seems destined to help define a generation." Jay McInerney
A lush, raw, thrilling novel of the senses about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, seductive world of a famous New York City restaurant."
""Let's say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge..."" This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the twenty-two-year-old at the heart of this stunning debut.Shot from a mundane, provincial past, Tess comes to New York in the stifling summer of 2006.Alone, knowing no one, living in a rented room in Williamsburg, she manages to land a job as a backwaiter at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. This begins the year we spend with Tess as she starts tonavigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing, and privileged life she has chosen, as well as the remorseless and luminous city around her. What follows is her education: in oysters, Champagne, theappellations of Burgundy, friendship, cocaine, lust, love, and dive bars. As her appetites awaken for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging we see her helplessly drawn into adarkly alluring love triangle. With an orphan s ardor shelatches onto Simone, a senior server at the restaurant who has lived in ways Tess only dreams of, and against the warnings of coworkers she falls under the spell of Jake, the elusive, tatted up, achingly beautiful bartender. These two and their enigmatic connection to each other will prove to be Tess s most exhilarating and painful lesson of all.
Stephanie Danler intimately defines the crucialtransition from girl to woman, from living in a place that feels like nowhere to living in a place that feels like the center of the universe. She deftly conjures the nonstop and purely adrenalized world of the restaurant conversations interrupted, phrases overheard, relationships only partially revealed. And she evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, the fragility and brutality of being young in New York with heart-stopping accuracy. A lush novel of the senses of taste and hunger, seeing and understanding, love and desire "Sweetbitter" is ultimately about the power of what remains after disillusionment, and the transformation and wisdom that come from our experiences, sweet and bitter."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 530 pages
  • 137 x 221 x 28mm | 590g
  • United States
  • English
  • Large type / large print
  • Large type / large print edition
  • 1410493431
  • 9781410493439
  • 513,207

Review quote

Instant acclaim for Stephanie Danler s "Sweetbitter"
Brilliantly written so engrossing to read, I missed a flight even though I had already checked in and was waiting at the gate. [Danler is an] excellent writer. Sweetbitter is the Kitchen Confidential of our time.
Gabrielle Hamilton, author of"Blood, Bones & Butter"and"Prune, "New York Times Book Review
"Stephanie Danler arrives on the literary scene with a fully-fledged, original voice that's wry, watchful and wise beyond its years acutely attuned to the pleasures of the senses and to the desperate stratagems of self-invention among young urban seekers. "Sweetbitter "is a stunning debut novel, one that seems destined to help define a generation."
Jay McInerney
the rare much-hyped book that lives up to its billing: endearing yet unsentimental, smart and fun, a bildungsroman mercifully free of cliche. Lyrical, insightful, and funny a total immersion in what it s like to be young and hungry. The reader is sure to gasp along with each new discovery until she has finished and is left wanting more.
Eugenia Williamson, "Boston Globe"
Danler s sexy, astute debut is really a love story about the addictive pull of restaurant life Anyone who s ever tied on an apron will think, Finally, someone wrote a book about us. And nailed it.
"People"(book of the week)
I loved this novel so, so much. It s rare that a book conveys with such unerring precision what it s like to be newly arrived in New York the story itself, but also tiny throwaway details like the sudden authority of the blue sky at dawn after staying up all night, or your bones bracing themselves for what comes next, or the exact mood of a Manhattan bar at three in the morning. I've never seen these things described so brilliantly before. Tess is a remarkable narrator: vulnerable and tough and smart, but more than that, she s inspiring and riveting. This book belongs with all the great essential young-female-in-New York classics.
Kate Christensen, author of"In the Drink" and "The Great Man"
An unpretentious, truth-dealing novel about hunger of every variety. Ms. Danler is a sensitive observer and gifted commenter on many things. Sweetbitter is going to make a lot of people hungry.
Dwight Garner, "New York Times"
"Gorgeous, sensual prose and a page-turning plot line that casts a spell down to the very last sentence of the final page...tantalizing in all the right ways"
A book that ll stay glued to your hands as you race through the pages in one sitting.
"Elle "
Stephanie Danler s prose like the New York life her young heroine longs for intoxicates the senses. A charming, harrowing debut.
Jonathan Dee, author of "The Privileges "and "A Thousand Pardons"
"Sweetbitter" is the most delicious fine dining: oysters so perfect they make you moan, impossibly expensive champagne, truffle shavings like snowflakes. This story of food and lust and youth and the negotiations of intimacy is so breathless, so intense, so utterly absorbing, I m still nursing my emotional hangover. Step aside Catcher in the Rye, Sex and the City, and Woody Allen. We have a new New York City the most dazzling one yet. Stephanie Danler s debut is extraordinary.
Diana Spechler, author of "Who By Fire "and "Skinny"
"Stephanie Danler has written an excellentcoming-of-age novel built around the down-and-dirty adventure of meeting the public in a service job. A mix of humor, realism, and occasional ghastliness, this well-told tale will keep you helplessly binge-reading to find out what happens next to its endangered heroine. An accomplishment!
Atticus Lish, author of "Preparation For the Next Life"
..".a raw, shucked, pungent, wild love story."
"Marie Claire"
""Sweetbitter... "dresses the bones of a classic coming-of-age story with the lusty flesh and blood of a bawdy early twenty-first-century picaresque... Danler... quickly draws you into the sparkling surfaces and the shadowy underbelly of the city... [Tess's] insatiable hunger for tactile, sensual satisfaction dares you to tag along. The journey is high-minded and dirty, beastly and bountiful."
..". rich in sensory descriptions, the kind of book that one doesn t just read but devours."
"Time Out"
"""The prose in itself is a dopamine tease: when Danler describes the brininess of a Kumamoto oyster chased with chocolate stout or the lights over the bar in summer twilight, I wanted to get drunk and slurp seafood with my friends."
" The Paris Review "online
."."."immaculately true to its time and place. [Danler's] food writing is lush and precise... and her confiding narrator, Tess, a raw, knowing, and crisp companion."
" Vulture
" Danler s ravishing debut is like inhabiting the heady after-midnight hours of a city drunk on its own charms [her] descriptions of food and drink go beyond mouth-watering, verging on orgasmic a first novel [that] tantalizes, seduces, satisfies. "
"Leigh Haber, "O Magazine
"""Sweetbitter"is the rare novel that transcends its hype... Come for the Meyer-lemon-tart narrator, Tess; stay for author Danler s lush and precise writing about food, drugs, and dives."
" New York"
Danler can be a brilliant observer of the city; she can make dialogue snap; she is unafraid to give us a protagonist whose drive can be monstrous.
" Newsday
""Danler's novel paints a visceral, evocative portrait of what it's like to move to New York in your early twenties. Her spot-on descriptions of New York 10 years ago and Tess' evolution from naif to world-weary server, all in just one year, elevate "Sweetbitter" - the opposite of "Bittersweet" - above its chic-lit trappings into an irresistible coming-of-age tale that can truly be savored."
" "Mae Anderson, "Associated Press"
"Danler exquisitely captures the world of restaurants in writing that is equal parts dreamy and sharp-edged. A vibrant celebration of taste, wine, pleasure, and New York City..."
" Food & Wine"
"Sweetbitter is urgent and heady, written with great attention to both environment and inner life, detailing desire and intimacy and the navigation of lust. The descriptions of life inside the restaurant are every bit as exhilarating as the lush descriptions of food throughout heirloom tomatoes and Kumamoto oysters and endless Sancerre."
" Guernica"

Irresistibly dark and deeply sexy a luscious treat for the senses.

Elizabeth Kiefer, "Refinery 29"

a killer novel a worthy addition to the rich literary tradition of writing about coming of age in New York City and, like the best of these novels, it captures the spirit of a generation in the process.
Mallory Rice, "S-W-E-E-T"
this book will be a hit one bite and you will devour it.
Sarah Jampel, "Food 52"
Reading "Sweetbitter" is an exercise in the senses, every word a delicious bit of visceral chew.
Jenny Bahn, "sixtyhotels.com"
Food and feeling are natural partners; this debut novel is a feast of both. Like her sexual awakening, Tess s culinary enlightenment is vivid and exquisite.
Annalisa Quinn, "npr.org"
Danler s food writing is outrageously good. Danler s writing about everything, in fact, is outrageously good. ["Sweetbitter"] is a literary jewel, a beautiful display of crisp, evocative writing that will have anyone who loves words and language salivating I have a feeling "Sweetbitter" may turn out to be a delectable appetizer in a long, fruitful writing career.
Catherine Mallette, "Star-Telegram"
perfectly captures the raw possibility of a young woman s first year in New York, opening up to a whole new world of wine, food, love and heartbreak.
Mackenzie Dawson, "New York Post"
Danler writes about food with sensory gusto as Tess learns how to distinguish the fine points of every wine, how to identify an heirloom tomato or oyster, how to shave a truffle. Throughout, [she] evokes Tess s voice intimate, confiding, wonderstruck, depressed with deft skill. This novel is a treat, sure to find a big following.
"Publishers Weekly"(starred review)
Incandescent, with visceral and gorgeous descriptions of flavors, pitch-perfect overheard dialogue, deep knowledge of food, wine, and the restaurant business . . . Danler aims to mesmerize, to seduce, to fill you with sensual cravings. She also offers the rare impassioned defense of Britney Spears. As they say at the restaurant: pick up!
"Kirkus"(starred review)
"Tess sensual awakening to food: creamy, ash-dusted cheeses; anchovies drenched in olive oil; dense, fleshy figs like a slap from another sun-soaked world [is] the book s true romance the heady first taste of self-discovery, bitter and salty and sweet.""
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly""
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About Stephanie Danler

STEPHANIE DANLER is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the New School.
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Rating details

48,233 ratings
3.28 out of 5 stars
5 14% (6,895)
4 29% (13,898)
3 34% (16,250)
2 17% (8,200)
1 6% (2,990)
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