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Food Themed Issue: The Iowa Review

The fall issue of The Iowa Review—whose cover features a boat adorned with oversized shrimp, “jumbo shrimp,” if you will—is titled “The Food Issue. Er, Non-Food Issue.” Noting that they don’t normally put out themed issues, Editor Russell Scott Valentino says that the issue, at first, wasn’t intended to be themed but happened as a result of several of the submissions including Meenakshi Gigi Durham’s essay, “Hunger Pangs,” Ayse Papatya Bucak’s short story “Iconography,” Elizabeth Cullen Dunn’s “A Gift from the American People,” and Naomi Kimbell’s esssay “Bounty.”

“For most magazines,” Valentino writes, “the idea of a Food Issue conjures up sumptuous color spreads, aspirational recipes, accounts of treks around the world to sample the most exotic repasts. But since TIR isn’t mandated to promote the quest for consumer bliss, but rather given the freedom to seek out and present a much wider slice of human experience, our Food Issue could perhaps more accurately be called the Non-Food Issue. Or the Hunger Issue. And our answer to the lavish four-color spread is Erin Carnes’s photographic series Digesting Dystopia, in which idealized images of plants, animals, and agriculture roost amid more disturbing views of the modern food production and consumption industries. Yet, despite the dark themes one would expect from a Hunger Issue, each of the pieces mentioned above also hints at the plenitude of Kimbell’s title: a spoonful of honey that provides a taste of home for war refugees, a bumper crop of Roma tomatoes at the food bank, the ‘chicken-butt soup’ Durham’s future husband teaches her to cook as they fall in love.”

Featured writers in this issue include Zach Savich, Kimberly Elkins, Eleanor Stanford, Tomaž Šalamun, Wendy S. Walters, and Stephanie Ford.

“The pieces in this issue,” says Valentino, “whether about food or other human hungers, remind us of privation and unmet desires but also of unexpected sources of abundance, including the ones in our own lives.

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