Aimee Nezhukumatathil in conversation with Afton Thomas for Bite by Bite

Join Square Books in celebrating the release of author and friend Aimee Nezhukumatathil's new book Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees and the paperback release of her celebrated work of nonfiction World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments. Aimee will be in conversation with Afton Thomas, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture's Associate Director of Programs. Cocktails will be served by Bar Muse. The launch event will take place Tuesday, April 30th at 5:30 PM at Off Square Books.

Can't make it? Reserve a signed first edition here. Personalization available.

Pre-orders will also include a limited-edition mango sticker, while supplies last!

Tune in virtually via Facebook Live.

About Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees


From the New York Times bestselling author of World of Wonders, a lyrical book of short essays about food, offering a banquet of tastes, smells, memories, associations, and marvelous curiosities from nature

In Bite by Bite, poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil explores the way food and drink evoke our associations and remembrances—a subtext or layering, a flavor tinged with joy, shame, exuberance, grief, desire, or nostalgia.

Nezhukmatathil restores our astonishment and wonder about food through her encounters with a range of foods and food traditions. From shaved ice to lumpia, mangoes to pecans, rambutan to vanilla, she investigates how food marks our experiences and identities, the boundaries between heritage and memory, and the ethics and environmental pressures around gathering and consuming food.

Bite by Bite offers a rich and textured kaleidoscope of vignettes and visions into the world of food and nature, drawn together by intimate and funny personal reflections, with Fumi Nakamura’s gorgeous imagery and illustration.

About World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

"Hands-down one of the most beautiful books of the year." --NPR

As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted--no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape--she was able to turn to our world's fierce and funny creatures for guidance.

"What the peacock can do," she tells us, "is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life." The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world's gifts.

Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.

About the Author

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four collections of poems, including, most recently, Oceanic, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. Other awards for her writing include fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Mississippi Arts Council, and MacDowell. Her writing appears in Poetry, the New York Times Magazine, ESPN, and Tin House. She serves as poetry faculty for the Writing Workshops in Greece and is professor of English and creative writing in the University of Mississippi's MFA program.Fumi Nakamura is a street artist, illustrator, and designer. Originally from Shimizu, Japan, her family moved to California when she was twelve. Her intense and sometimes eerie graphite and coloured pencil artworks have been featured in exhibitions around the world. Nakamura holds a bachelor's in Pictorial Arts from San Jose State University. She lives in New York City.

About the Conversation Partner

Afton Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master’s degree in theatre with an emphasis on children’s theatre education from Sacramento State University. Afton’s professional experience includes theatre education, hospitality management, human resources, and project management. Afton joined the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in 2014 as a project coordinator with the Southern Foodways Alliance and served in this position for 4.5 years before stepping into her current role as the Center’s Associate Director for Programs. In this role, Afton supports faculty, students, and the Center’s institutes with the planning and execution of weekly events, conferences, and workshops. Afton is committed to the Lafayette-Oxford-University community and has held leadership positions on several nonprofit boards. She resides in Oxford, MS with her husband, two children, and dog, Mavis.

Praise for Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees


“A collection of flavorful memories. . . . A graceful memoir. . . . not unlike halo-halo, a mixture of unexpected ingredients that make for a delectable dessert. . . . Savory food writing." — Kirkus

“Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Bite by Bite is an intimate invitation to come sit at her table; each essay is studded with richly rendered traditions and unexpected anecdotes that range from tender to hilarious to downright devastating. A feast of a collection.” — Elizabeth Acevedo, author of Family Lore and The Poet X

“Over the years, Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s writing has fed me in ways I didn’t even know were possible. So it is appropriate, then, that she has now turned her attention to the world of food, which she writes about with such remarkable dexterity. Bite by Bite is a book about memory, pleasure, regret, and celebration. It uses food to talk about what it means to be human—to love, to learn, to laugh, to lose. Nezhukumatathil’s writing has changed the way I look at food, and made me infinitely more grateful for those whom I share it with. I love this book.” — Clint Smith, author of How the Word Is Passed and Above Ground

“Nezhukumatathil’s background as a poet is obvious throughout. Her writing is lyrical (some essays include poems), and her brevity shows her skill in word choice and description. Bite by Bite will be an especially good option for anyone trying to get out of a reading slump.” — Eater

“Nezhukumatathil’s prowess as a poet infuses this unique memoir meditation on the foods that mean the most to her. . . Each chapter weaves facts, trivia, mythology, and personal stories together, linking Nezhukumatathil's food subjects through space and time. . . She ties it all up with vivid prose that recalls the excitement of a mother anticipating her child eating their first handpicked berry. This whimsical and soothing work will appeal to fans of food writing, memoirs, intercultural stories, and poetry.” — Booklist

Pre-Order Now Badge
Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees By Aimee Nezhukumatathil Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063282261
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Ecco - April 30th, 2024

From the New York Times bestselling author of World of Wonders, a lyrical book of short essays about food, offering a banquet of tastes, smells, memories, associations, and marvelous curiosities from nature

Staff Pick Badge
World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (Illustrator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639550562
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - April 16th, 2024

"Hands-down one of the most beautiful books of the year." --NPR

Beloved author Aimee Nezhukumatathil's celebrated work of nonfiction, now including additional essays and illustrations.

Event date: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2024 - 5:30pm
Off Square Books
129 Courthouse Square
Oxford, MS 38655
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