“I’ve never read a book that made me weep, wince, laugh out loud, and rejoice like Slow Noodles. In Chantha Nguon’s harrowing, wise, and fiercely feminist memoir, cooking is a language—of love, remembrance, and rebellion—and stories are nourishment."
―Maggie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful
“A heart-lifting story of radiant compassion, Slow Noodles reminds us of a life-affirming truth: Even when all seems lost, who we most essentially are, like what we most unerringly love, somehow remains. We have never needed this beautiful book more.”
—Margaret Renkl, author of The Comfort of Crows and Late Migrations
“With hauntingly vivid and often surprisingly beautiful language and imagery, Slow Noodles tells an astonishing story of life—persistent, miraculous life—in a harrowing era. I’ll never forget it.”
―Mary Laura Philpott, author of Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives
“A testament to the strength of women in times of war, a recipe book of memories, and a lesson in rebuilding after destruction, this memoir is a reminder that the world has ended many times over in different places, and that our teachers in survival walk among us every day.”
―Thi Bui, bestselling author of The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
“Chantha Nguon connects to the joy of the sight, scent, taste, texture, and even sound of food, and when there is no food to eat she connects to the memory of food. In this potent narrative of unbreakable, inviolable, female power, each recipe is an act of grace, transformation, resistance, and reclamation.”
―Alice Randall, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Soul Food Love
"Not only the remarkable story of Chantha Nguon’s life, Slow Noodles is a beautiful glimpse into the hearts of women as they find each other over food.”
―Lisa Donovan, author of Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger.
“It is rare that a memoir and the meals it recounts truly depend on each other, each intrinsic to the other. Yet that is the case in Slow Noodles, where recipes reinforce the incredible, poignant, difficult, and often joyous tale of Chantha Nguon's survival. This book tells a story that must be heard, and offers the tastes of an extraordinary life.”
―Tamar Adler, author of An Everlasting Meal and The Everlasting Meal Cookbook
"Lyrical and visceral, perfumed by charcoal fires and fish paste, this call and response between narrative and cookbook shows us all how time in the kitchen can restore. Slow Noodles is food and life writing at its most profound."
―John T. Edge, host of TrueSouth and author of The Potlikker Papers
“Achingly beautiful. Nguon explores how food fuels love, preserves history, restores losses, heals trauma, and binds people and cultures together. This is a work of synesthesia. The flavors described in these pages become so potent that they transform into colors that can be seen, textures that can be felt, and music that can be heard. I have read many food memoirs but none have moved me, sated me, inspired and informed me like Slow Noodles.”
―Amanda Little, author of The Fate of Food: What We’ll Eat in a Bigger, Hotter, Smarter World
Named a Most Anticipated Book of Winter/2024 by San Francisco Chronicle, Reader's Digest, Parade, Publishers Weekly, ELLE, and Zibby Mag
The Best (and Most Anticipated) Nonfiction Books of 2024, So Far - Elle
“Best Books to Read in 2024” - PEOPLE.com
“[A]n evocative, haunting memoir… those who dive in will find it a remarkable and important piece of work. A moving book that mixes horror and hope, disaster and good food, creating a poignant, fascinating read.”―Kirkus Reviews
“[B]y turns, heart-wrenching, inspiring, harrowing, and mouthwatering… Slow Noodles is a rare gem of a story, gorgeously written, humble and stirring, and packed with tempting recipes. Shelf Talker: This memoir of food, family, feminism, and Cambodian history, which includes enticing cookbook-quality recipes, is breathtaking in its emotional resonance and lovely writing.”―Shelf Awareness
"In this engrossing and evocative debut memoir...Nguon interweaves the hardships she endured with her favorite recipes and the memories attached to them, offering readers evocative glimpses of the bursts of light that sustained her through long stretches of harrowing darkness. This haunting yet hopeful account will appeal to foodies and history buffs alike." ―Publishers Weekly
“The book is not only an impactful memoir of an extraordinary woman but a human-centered take on an era that has largely been defined by a lack of humanity.”―San Francisco Chronicle
“Chantha Nguon reclaims the love and culture she lost with a beautiful collection of recipes knitted together with her personal story.”—Reader's Digest
“Slow Noodles is a poignant memoir meets cookbook… This book is an act of resistance and reclamation filled with lyrical prose.” —Parade
"Interwoven with recipes and lists of ingredients, Nguon’s heart-rending writing reinforces the joy and agony of her core thesis: 'The past never goes away.'" —ELLE
"By facing the painful past, Nguon crafts a recipe for a life, one that combines the imperatives from her mother and the evolving definitions of need with renewed hope and purpose." —Chapter 16
“Demonstrating an exceptional sensitivity to the cultural, social, and political significance of food… this memoir is also a redemptive homecoming to parts of Cambodian history still fresh in many minds and a meditation on the beginnings of a new Cambodia.” —Booklist
“Nguon’s memoir about being a Cambodian refugee surviving a genocide to discovering hope and faith through her mother’s recipes will move you to tears. It’s not all down notes though and the story beams with hope, pride, and determination.”—Debutiful
“Food is at the heart of this poignant memoir of war and displacement — food prepared, food shared, food longed for... a heart-shattering read, illuminating the atrocities and cruelty of war but also the strength of those who live through it.”―Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Lyrical, harrowing, and fiercely feminist, Chantha Nguon’s Slow Noodles is the gripping story of family, survival and food that blends poetic remembrances with 22 unique recipes.”―Southern Review of Books
“With such descriptions and a strong sense of place, Nguon expertly captures the bittersweet feeling of her memories and makes Slow Noodles a moving reflection.”―Eater.com
“Heartbreaking, exquisitely told”―BookPage (starred review)
"With the help of Nashville-native writer and reporter Kim Green and Chantha’s daughter, Clara Kim, Nguon’s story will reach worldwide and show us all that it’s possible to make something sweet out of something bitter." —WPLN News
"This book is a powerful blend of sorrow and hope, terror and optimism, all interwoven with the significance of food and the potency of memories, making it an ideal choice for book clubs looking to delve into history alongside discussions on family dynamics, the role of food, and the complexities of immigration." —The Southern Bookseller Review
Press & Praise
"'Slow Noodles' couldn’t have come at a better time. The book is not only an impactful memoir of an extraordinary woman but a human-centered take on an era that has largely been defined by a lack of humanity." —Soleil Ho
"Nguon’s late mother’s philosophy was that the best dishes take time and patience to prepare — a sentiment that helped shape both Nguon’s life and the book." —Margaret Littman
In her new memoir Slow Noodles, [Chantha Nguon] details some of the stories of the painful past and hopeful future — through recipes.
"By facing the painful past, Nguon crafts a recipe for a life, one that combines the imperatives from her mother and the evolving definitions of need with renewed hope and purpose." —Sara Beth West
"Nguon infuses her memoir with a spirit of persistence and defiance. Even in the face of evil, she continued cooking her childhood dishes, speaking her childhood language and slowly, slowly making her way home again." —Amy Scribner
"Unforgettably wise, Slow Noodles is a testament to the transformative strength an individual possesses during life’s darkest moments, and it is a reminder that something as small as a recipe has the ability to save the one who carries it and, like hope, is best when shared." —Nicole Yurcaba
An excerpt from author and cook Chantha Nguon's memoir recounts her first trip home to Cambodia after fleeing as a refugee—and the dish that made her feel at home once again.
"Food is at the heart of this poignant memoir of war and displacement — food prepared, food shared, food longed for. It is a symbol, a memory and a hope."
"Nguon’s heart-rending writing reinforces the joy and agony of her core thesis: 'The past never goes away.'”
"A refugee who barely survived Pol Pot’s genocide writes about her harrowing experiences and the importance of food to her family and country."
"Khmer recipes punctuate Nguon’s stories, which are redolent with the culinary memories that formed the foundation of her childhood and served as a necessary comfort during years of great suffering."
"Slow Noodles is a poignant memoir meets cookbook...This book is an act of resistance and reclamation filled with lyrical prose."
"In Slow Noodles, Chantha Nguon reclaims the love and culture she lost with a beautiful collection of recipes knitted together with her personal story."
"With such descriptions and a strong sense of place, Nguon expertly captures the bittersweet feeling of her memories and makes Slow Noodles a moving reflection. "
"Through food, [Nguon is] able to revisit her mother’s kitchen, the familiar aromas washing over her and taking her home."
"This memoir with recipes is delicious."
"This memoir of food, family, feminism, and Cambodian history, which includes enticing cookbook-quality recipes, is breathtaking in its emotional resonance and lovely writing." — Julia Kastner
"A moving book that mixes horror and hope, disaster and good food, creating a poignant, fascinating read."
"This haunting yet hopeful account will appeal to foodies and history buffs alike."
The story of how Chantha and Kim became accidental food writers together—and learned from fellow writers.