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Steph Cha

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For most of the world, J. Ryan Stradal is a new name, one of 2015’s phenom debut authors, with a New York Times bestseller right out the gate. His novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, has met with glowing praise from every imaginable outlet—Oprah and People, the New York Times and NPR. Every word of it is well deserved—the novel brims with warm, vivid characters and painterly stories, evoking a bounty of tender feeling....
I met Nickolas Butler at the table next to the beer keg in the green room of last year’s Decatur Book Festival. Neither of us knew many people in Atlanta, so Nick, my husband, and I ended up hanging out for most of the weekend. We drank many beers, and one night, we found a fancy restaurant in the rain that served oysters until one or two in the morning. We drank cocktails and...