Once upon a time we knew the origins of things: what piece of earth the potato on our dinner plate came from, which well our water was dipped from, who cobbled our shoes, and whose cow provided the leather. In many parts of the world, that information is still readily available. But in our society, even as technology makes certain kinds of information more accessible than ever, other connections are irrevocably lost.
In Glass, Paper, Beans, Leah Cohen traces three simple commodities on their geographic and semantic journey from her rickety table at the Someday Café to their various points of origin. As Cohen draws the reader Oz-like across time and continents, she brings to life three unforgettable characters whose labor provides the glass for her mug, the pulp for her newspaper and the beans for her cup of coffee. In prose as sophisticated as it is simple, she braids the myths, lore, and history of these three simple staples and conjures an unseen world where economics, fetishization, and manufacture meet.
An elegant and inspired inquiry into the true nature of things, Glass, Paper, Beans is a classic work on the economy of everyday life.
Leah Hager Cohen is the author of five works of nonfiction, including Train Go Sorry, and five novels, including The Grief of Others, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was a finalist… More about Leah Hager Cohen
One of the Toronto Globe and Mail‘s Ten Best Books of the Year
"A minor miracle…After you read it, nothing-not even a sheet of newsprint-will seem ordinary again." -New York Times Book Review
"Cohen’s tracing of the three objects is fascinating, but what really sets it apart is the poetic beauty of the prose." –Philadelphia Inquirer
"The book itself seems to vibrate in your hands as you discover an odd mysticism rooted in the most ordinary and most obvious." –Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul
"These are not merely stories about production and commerce, but richly hued, intimate portraits of people whose work and lives are seamlessly integrated…Something to be savored." –Toronto Globe and Mail
"At the deepest level, this is a book about storytelling as a mission of discovery and transcendence." –New York Newsday