This book is about Lois Clary, a tal­ented young pro­gram­mer from Michi­gan who fol­lows a job to California, only to be drawn into the weird world of food that waits there. It’s about work and eating, robots and microbes, inde­pen­dence and ambition,


I believe it is the first novel in Eng­lish to feature, as a key sup­port­ing char­ac­ter, a possibly-sentient sourdough starter.

Sourdough is pub­lished in the U.S. by MCD, a new divi­sion of FSG that I’m tremen­dously proud to be part of. The book’s cover, with its shin­ing alien batard, was designed by Rodrigo Corral, the best in the business.

The great Cory Doc­torow praised the book for covering

so much terrain: micro­bial nations, assim­i­la­tion and tradition, embod­ied con­scious­ness and the cri­sis of the tech industry, all with­out los­ing the light, sweet, ironic Sloanian voice famil­iar from Penum­bra, a plot that makes the book a page-turner and a laugh-out-louder, with sweet­ness and romance and tart­ness and irony in perfect balance.

Writing for NPR, Jason Shee­han said of Sour­dough:

It is a beautiful, small, sweet, quiet book. It knows as much about the strange extremes of food as Penum­bra did about the dark lat­i­tudes of the book community.

The Suitcase Clone

For years, we’ve had my novella Ajax Penumbra 1969 to help us under­stand the foun­da­tions of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Now, The Suit­case Clone does the same for Sour­dough, rein­tro­duc­ing a char­ac­ter from the novel, set­ting up a glo­be­trot­ting caper circa the 1980s, clar­i­fy­ing the con­nec­tion to Penum­bra.

Along the way, we’ll learn more about a cer­tain charismatic goop.

Here’s the novella’s bril­liant ani­mated cover, designed by Alex Merto:

A neon sign in the shape of a wine bot­tle with a suit­case embed­ded inside of it, and the words 'The Suit­case Clone' in curl­ing letters.

August 2022, Berkeley