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Small Fires

UK Publisher: Pushkin Press

Why do we cook? Is it just to feed ourselves and others? Or is there something more revolutionary going on?

In Small Fires, Rebecca May Johnson reinvents cooking – that simple act of rolling up our sleeves, wielding a knife, spattering red hot sauce on our books – as a way of experiencing ourselves and the world. Cooking is thinking: about the liberating constraint of tying apron strings; the transformative dynamics of shared meals; the meaning of appetite and bodily pleasure; the wild subversiveness of the recipe, beyond words or control.

This joyful, revelatory work of memory and meditation both complicates and electrifies life in the kitchen. It shows us the radical potential of the thing we do every day: the power of small fires burning everywhere.


‘An intense, thought-provoking enquiry into the very nature of cooking’ Nigella Lawson

‘One of the most original food books I’ve ever read, at once intelligent and sensuous, witty, provoking and truly delicious’ Olivia Laing

‘Essential reading for anyone interested in writing about food. Bold, beautiful, daring’ Rachel Roddy

‘Tender, electric, intimately transformative. Rebecca May Johnson has written her own glowing epic’ Nina Mingya Powles

‘I loved this genre-busting book. Shows that cooking can be a wild kind of magic’ Bee Wilson

‘Like nothing else I have read. It had me rethinking what a recipe is, what cooking is’ Katherine Angel

‘Smart, creative and thoughtful. Confounds our expectations of what food writing can be’ Ruby Tandoh

‘Spellbinding and completely unique’ Annie Lord

‘Liberating… a new way to write about food’ Jonathan Nunn

‘A truly special, boundary breaking book about desire, friendship, food and freedom. It feels like a whole new genre is being created through her writing’ Rebecca Tamás

‘I loved it start to finish – bliss to be in the kitchen with Rebecca May Johnson, with one eye firmly on the moveable pleasures of cooking and eating… One for you if you like A Ghost in the Throat, The Argonauts, MK Fisher and fried foods of any and all descriptions’ Ana Kinsella

‘A simply brilliant book. Raucously funny and searingly intelligent… Rebecca May Johnson shows what it might mean to take food – its preparation, its consumption, and how we relate to it – seriously’ Amelia Horgan