Sisters & food Ritual
A Moveable Feast with Daisy Johnson
© Pollyanna Johnson
On Tuesday 15th December, we were thrilled to welcome the Booker Prize-shortlisted author Daisy Johnson to a virtual event. Daisy is the author of the short story collection Fen, winner of the Edge Hill short story prize; Everything Under, a novel reimagining the Oedipus myth, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; and now Sisters, published in August by Jonathan Cape. This mesmerising story of two teenage sisters who are unusually, perhaps dangerously close, uses foreshadowing, flashbacks, elision and a steady accrual of images – many of them horror tropes – to build a powerful sense of menace. So it’s an unsettling novel, but also a moving one: about grief, trauma, abusive relationships and the erosion of the self.
Daisy Johnson has also contributed to a collection of food writing, In the Kitchen, and her essay explores the power of food rituals to anchor and bind us.
She read an excerpt from the novel, and we discussed how Sisters is firmly rooted in the horror tradition; influences including Shirley Jackson, Stephen King, Helen Oyeyemi, Sarah Hall and Kelly Link; taboos around motherhood; the invading forces of nature; the way language shapes us; food as means to control; the dynamics of a country pub; and why Daisy Johnson always allows readers to make their own minds up. She also recommended the non-fiction of Elena Ferrante and Shirley Jackson, Caleb Femi's poetry, and horror films such as Get Out. Massive thanks to Daisy Johnson for a fascinating evening.