Lois Clary spends her days writing code for cutting-edge robotic arms at General Dexterity, a super-hip San Francisco startup, and her nights passed out on the couch in her minuscule apartment. For sustenance, she relies mostly on slippery nutritive gel, until the day she finds a mysterious takeout menu stuck to her front door. Intrigued by the bold font and simple choices (spicy soup, spicy sandwich or a double-spicy combo of both), Lois calls in--and her life will never be the same.

Plagued by constant stress-related indigestion and loneliness, Lois finds antidotes for both in her new (spicy) diet and in the two brothers who run the restaurant out of their apartment. Beo, who answers the phone and cooks, and Chaiman, who delivers her orders, become Lois's lifelines, but must leave the country suddenly because of visa problems. The brothers give Lois an unexpected parting gift: their sourdough starter, tucked into a pottery crock, and a CD of melancholy music to keep it company. Lois has never baked bread in her life, but she begins feeding the starter and experimenting with loaves, and before long, she has a standing order at her workplace cafeteria and a lopsided brick oven in her backyard. Robin Sloan (Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore) takes readers on a wildly geeky, flour-dusted ride through the strange hierarchies of the Bay Area food and techie communities in his second novel, Sourdough.

Mixing equal parts snark and heart with a dash of charm and a sprinkling of mystery, Sloan has concocted a winning story that--like its namesake bread--carries a satisfying tang. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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