Southern Fried Sushi: A Novel is written in the first person, which may put some readers off. However, I would encourage those people to give it a try – they will be pleasantly surprised. Shiloh, the narrator, is an award-winning journalist who grew up in New York and who is now working for Associated Press in Tokyo and engaged to Carlos, an Argentinean expatriate also based in Tokyo. She is hardworking, ambitious, loves all things Japanese (particularly the food), and never wants to leave, particularly as she is estranged from her flaky mother and the father who abandoned them both.
The sudden death of her mother forces Shiloh to return to the States to attend the funeral and deal with the estate. Here, she meets a number of Christians in the very best sense. These are not just characters who say grace before meals and attend church on Sunday. These are the Christians we should all aspire to be – people who praise God, who trust in Him in all circumstances, who reach out and befriend others, and who actively talk about their faith in a natural way because God is such an important part of their lives. Shiloh discovers that her mother had changed dramatically from the flaky woman she remembered, and as she begins to understand what caused those changes, Shiloh, too, begins to change.
I really enjoyed Southern Fried Sushi: A Novel. It is a well-written novel with a cast of likable characters, and some very funny scenes around Southern cuisine – as a New Zealander, I could certainly understand the culture shock Shiloh felt in moving from Tokyo to small-town Virginia. While it is not a traditional genre romance (with the boy-meets-girl, fall-in-love, live-happily-ever-after formula), it is a romance in the sense that it describes a series of relationships built on love - relationships between friends, between husband and wife, between us and God. It preaches a clear gospel message without falling into a trap of saccharine sermonising. This is what Christian fiction should be. Best of all, the sequel is due to be published in March 2012, so readers won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next!
Southern Fried Sushi: A Novel will be released on 1 October 2011, and will be available from Amazon, http://www.koorong.com.au/, or http://www.christianbook.com/.