“Wildgen writes with a fresh, appealing honesty and has done a marvelous job of capturing that youthful moment in our lives when we are like sponges ready to soak up someone else’s character, taste and charm, borrowed elements from which we hope to concoct an authentic, individual self.” – Francine Prose, People Magazine, Critic’s Choice, 4 stars

 “…You’re Not You, by the astonishingly gifted debut novelist Michelle Wildgen, is a complex and satisfying dish: a story of intimate strangers and their impact on each other’s lives. What makes this novel so enticing is the smartly self-mocking young narrator, Bec, and the lovely, unlucky Kate.” – Cathleen Medwick, O Magazine

“Wildgen eschews the cliché, and instead provides us with a psychologically acute and complex tale of a young woman who begins to learns, under emotionally difficult circumstances, who she is and what she wants to be. This is one of those first novels that makes you want to reach out to the writer and say, hurry up and write: I want to read your second novel.” – Nancy Pearl, Seattle NPR

“Wildgen is after something less treacly and more complicated. Bec makes progress—and mistakes. Kate suffers, but she’s no saint… it’s no less a manly man than Raymond Carver… who comes to mind when Bec cooks without Kate’s tutelage.” – Jennifer Weiner, Elle

“Every year has its first-time author stars, and Wildgen looks to land among them.” – Tampa Tribune

“A remarkably accomplished first novel.” – Toronto Sun

“…Clear and determined, daring to spotlight an almost taboo subject—the need for sex among the sick. …Wildgen’s debut showcases the talent that won her inclusion in Best New American Voices 2004, and should take her further still.” – Publishers Weekly

“An intriguing look at caregiving and the emotional risks and rewards that each person takes and receives. With the help of the well-developed and believable characters, readers become immersed in the story, which makes for a very satisfying read.” – Library Journal

“…[a] fresh, accomplished first novel. Wildgen’s attention to detail demonstrates impressive maturity and skill. No cheap tear-jerker here, but a novel that tackles challenging material with honesty and a clear eye.” – Kirkus Reviews




“Three words for you: Food Nerds Unite.”–The New York Times

 “Restaurateur brothers torn between nostalgia and novelty are the focus of Tin House executive editor Michelle Wildgen’s new novel, Bread and Butter(Doubleday), filled with tasty insider details, from the tyranny of molten chocolate cake to the politics of dining at the bar.”–Vogue

 “Gets the details of the restaurant biz and the dynamics of those who are part of it just right… As she did in You’re Not You, her compulsively readable literary debut, Wildgen couples vivid description with crisp prose, putting the reader right in the scene — and right at the table.”–Miami Herald

 “A lively novel with an engaging narrative of the restaurant biz…. with her wonderfully descriptive style and an obvious understanding of the restaurant business, Wildgen uses these settings… to explore the intimacy and fragility of families, the complicated relationships among people who work closely together, and the difficult task of serving customers like ourselves.”–The Oregonian

 “Wildgen glazes Bread & Butter with delicious behind-the-scenes details that foodies will appreciate… it goes down like comfort food.”–Entertainment Weekly

 “Four stars for Bread and Butter (Doubleday), Michelle Wildgen’s saucy tale of three foodie brothers at each others’ throats.”—Vanity Fair

 “Wildly entertaining … a novel that’s as much about the complex dance of family dynamics as it is about the mysterious world behind the kitchen door–and a divinely delicious read, to boot.”—O, the Oprah Magazine

 “Bread and Butter is a tremendous feast of a novel.”–The Millions

 “Wildgen’s turn of phrase is as deft and precise as a skillfully wielded knife… Bread and Butter shows a writer at the top of her craft addressing a subject for which her passion and curiosity is palpable.”–Madison Capital Times

 “[A] family drama set against the backdrop of an insider’s take on big-ticket dining . . . Wildgen plates one dazzling dish after another on nearly every page.”—Kirkus Reviews

 “Wildgen dazzles with her prose, which is sprinkled with keen observations and supported by her food-writing knowledge. . . [A] trenchant examination of sibling rivalry and fine cuisine. Not for foodies only.”—Publishers Weekly

 “Wildgen has the professional chops to whip up a debut delicacy that’s as complex as a rich cassoulet and as comforting as good ol’ mac-and-cheese.”—Carol Haggas, Booklist



“…the tone is so far from didactic, and the characters are so skillfully developed, that it succeeds. The third-person narrative dwells equally on the three members of a housing co-op: Hal, a vegetarian who works at a hunger-relief nonprofit; Karin, an athletic writer for a trade magazine about cheese; and the weary Greta, who has moved to the co-op to escape her alcoholic husband. The characters are no-nonsense, practical, Midwestern. Karin, visiting a dairy farm to avoid the blackout, reflects that sheep, with their “oily, strong-smelling fleece,” were “better from a distance.” Goats, however, “ate well and gave a lot of milk, and good goat cheese was always as chic as a little black dress.” Meanwhile, Greta’s drunkard husband begins to go through the agonizing process, vividly conveyed, of getting clean — a metaphor for our society kicking its destructive addictions. What if the apocalypse comes gently, this memorable book asks, not with a bang or a blaze but with the silence of refrigerators no longer buzzing and the “fuzzy dandelions of candlelight floating past the curtains”?  – The New York Times

 “An evocative look at the green movement that includes improbably interesting passages on everything from artisanal cheese caves to the joys of hunting for morels in a damp forest, But Not For Long is also a stirring meditation on modern angst and the meaning of selflessness.” – People Magazine

 “Wildgen skillfully shifts between the key players, focusing simultaneously on social and interpersonal issues. With its open-ended conclusion, the novel allows the characters’ lives to resonate beyond the final page.” – Publishers Weekly

 “The cold emptiness of the not-quite ghost town gets its best rendition from Michelle Wildgen in But Not for Long…The book opens, eerily and beautifully, with a drifting dock in the lake behind the co-op and a dog abandoned alone on it. Each of these signs and events are just hints, backdrops for Wildgen’s meaty, vibrant characters and their personal crises… These stories are well and sensitively told, and Greta, especially, shows off Wildgen’s talent for complexity and ambiguity. The end of the book belongs to Will. He doesn’t wrap up the plot, or tie down loose ends; instead, with no less realism or grace than in the rest of the novel, his narration shifts the focus and draws together the resonances Wildgen has set up, through the blackout and the hints of catastrophe. They resolve into something like a chord, entirely through implication, in an amazingly unobtrusive virtuoso display.” – Philadelphia City Paper

 “Wildgen deftly intertwines environmental themes with her characters’ emotional searches, and the result is a multi-layered story that feels relevant without becoming overly sentimental or political. Wildgen’s last book was acclaimed by critics, and But Not for Long should equally be praised for its well-wrought portrait of those navigating a world that seems to be crumbling around them.” – Bookslut

 “In clear, precise prose, Wildgen tracks this process of restarting, adjusting, and refreshing.” – The Rumpus