The Book of Difficult Fruit cover artA is for aronia, berry member of the apple family, clothes-stainer, superfruit with reputed healing power. D is for durian, endowed with a dramatic rind and a shifting odor—peaches, old garlic. M is for medlar, name-checked by Shakespeare for its crude shape, beloved by gardeners for its flowers. Q is for quince, which, when fresh, gives off the scent of “roses and citrus and rich women’s perfume” but if eaten raw is so astringent it wicks the juice from one’s mouth.

In a work of unique invention, these and other difficult fruits serve as the central ingredients of twenty-six lyrical essays (with recipes). What makes a fruit difficult? Its cultivation, its harvest, its preparation, the brevity of its moment for ripeness, its tendency toward rot or poison, the way it might overrun your garden. Here, these fruits will take you on unexpected turns and give sideways insights into relationships, self-care, land stewardship, medical and botanical history, and so much more. What if the primary way you show love is through baking, but your partner suffers from celiac disease? Why leave in the pits for Willa Cather’s plum jam? How can we rely on bodies as fragile as the fruits that nourish them?

Kate Lebo’s unquenchable curiosity promises adventure: intimate, sensuous, ranging, bitter, challenging, rotten, ripe. After reading The Book of Difficult Fruit, you will never think of sweetness the same way again. (from the publisher)

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Recognition for The Book of Difficult Fruit

Considered a Best Book of the Year for 2021 by several publications, including: 

Shortlisted for the Pacific Northwest Book Award 2022

Reviews of The Book of Difficult Fruit

“Kate Lebo is the best kind of poet-naturalist: her writing is savage and lyrical and scientific all at once. The Book of Difficult Fruit is feral and fierce.”
—Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks

“Utterly original, expertly crafted, tangy and tart and true, Kate Lebo’s The Book of Difficult Fruit is a nonfiction masterpiece.”
—Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra

“[A] dazzling, thorny new essay collection”
—Samin Nosrat, The New York Times

“Darkly funny . . . often fascinating, sometimes juicy, rarely dry . . . The Book of Difficult Fruit is brimming with obscure knowledge that’s going to loom over every gin martini I drink for the next decade, and there are fantastic recipes too . . . Delicious and meaningful.”
—Alex Beggs, The New York Times Book Review

“Delightfully unexpected . . . Eloquent, well-researched, and thoughtfully conceived and organized, this genre-defying book will appeal to foodies as well as those who appreciate both fine writing and the pleasures of domestic arts and crafts. A one-of-a-kind reading experience.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Witty . . . Unusual and piquant, this . . . will hit the spot with readers hungry for something a little different.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review