Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity

Be My Guest: Reflections on Food, Community and the Meaning of Generosity

By Priya Basil
144 pages
November 2020

Slim book. Speaks volumes. (Aude-the-bookseller)


A thought-provoking meditation on food, family, identity, immigration, and, most of all, hospitality--at the table and beyond--that's part food memoir, part appeal for more authentic decency in our daily worlds, and in the world at large.

Be My Guest is an utterly unique, deeply personal meditation on what it means to tend to others and to ourselves--and how the two things work hand in hand. Priya Basil explores how food--and the act of offering food to others--are used to express love and support. Weaving together stories from her own life with knowledge gleaned from her Sikh heritage; her years spent in Kenya, India, Britain, and Germany; and ideas from Derrida, Plato, Arendt, and Peter Singer, Basil focuses an unexpected and illuminating light on what it means to be both a host and a guest. Lively, wide-ranging, and impassioned, Be My Guestis a singular work, at once a deeply felt plea for a kinder, more welcoming world and a reminder that, fundamentally, we all have more in common than we imagine.

“If the whole world digested Be My Guest, we’d be OK. It won’t happen, of course, and Basil doesn’t pretend that it will. Chauvinists, xenophobes, climate change deniers—inhospitable people the world over—will detest her compellingly beautiful book.”
—Alexander Gilmour, The Financial Times
“Reading this slender, rich exploration of what it means to cook for others is like pulling up a chair at the ideal dinner party.”
—Hephzibah Anderson, The Guardian
“A powerful meditation on hospitality . . . . Packed with such brilliance.”
—Gareth Grundy, The Observer

“A beautiful and personal book.”
—Fernando Augusto Pacheco, Monocle