cover image Elza’s Kitchen

Elza’s Kitchen

Marc Fitten. Bloomsbury, $14 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-60819-769-9

Fitten’s witty second novel (after Valeria’s Last Stand) will leave mouths watering and tears streaming, all for the sake of food and love. Divorcée Elza owns a little restaurant in postcommunist Hungary. She’s in a dead-end relationship with the Sous-Chef, restless and dissatisfied, and desperate for the Critic to visit, taste her marvelous pork tenderloin, and nominate her for the coveted Silver Ladle award. She entreats two friends, the Professor of Sauces and the Professor of Meats, to persuade the Critic to give her a shot. Her failed relationship with the Sous-Chef, combined with the Critic’s late, drunken arrival, and a violent incident with a trio of loitering Gypsy children cause everything to unravel. Elza must rebuild not just her business but her life. Fitten, having lived in Hungary for several years, paints a vivid and charming picture of life in the country. While Elza’s story is an easy and engaging read, Fitten also manages to subtly track the progress of a nation and its people—specifically its women (they’re the only ones given proper names)—as they pursue a better life. Agent: Bill Clegg, WME Entertainment. (July)