Simple Recipes is a book containing eight short stories centered around different families in different circumstances. It is written by Chinese American novelist Madeleine Thien, first published in 2001 and then later republished in 2002 by McClelland and Stewart. The book won the Ethel Wilson Prize in 2002 and received many good reviews.
The first story in the book, which carries the same name as the book, is about a family, just like all the other stories in the book. The families are always somehow dysfunctional or hit by a large tragedy that the main characters must work through, usually from the perspective of a young child. It focuses heavily on burdens that are generational and breaking the bonds of deterioration that parents might carry over their children for various reasons.
Simple Recipes is Thien’s debut novel, and she won the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop Emerging Writer Award as well as becoming the Regional Finalist for the Commonwealth Writers prize. The book is rated 3.93 on Goodreads, with nearly 400 ratings. Thien often writes about hardships and truths that are relevant trans-culturally, as well as focusing on the second-generation immigrants in countries, which is something she herself can relate to.