WHO: Marie NDiaye
WHAT: THE CHEFFE: A Cook’s Novel
WHEN: Published by Knopf October 30, 2019
WHERE: The author was born in Pithiviers, France and now lives in Berlin.
WHY: “Readers will be consumed by this tale of talent and obsession.
“The life and career of a majestically talented, intensely private master chef is narrated by her greatest admirer and loyal employee in Marie NDiaye’s engrossing psychological novel.
“Born in the early 1950s in the southwestern French town of Sainte-Bazeille, to a large, poor family, the Cheffe leaves school at 14 to work as a maid for the Clapeaus, a wealthy older couple who ‘loved eating with a fervent, unrelenting love.’ She finds her calling in replacing the Clapeaus’ vacationing cook and goes on to devote herself to cooking, moving through kitchens ‘with the kind of controlled, dynamic, galvanizing intentness that attracted miraculous ideas’ and eventually opening her own award-winning restaurant. But this single-mindedness is also the source of painful lifelong conflict between the Cheffe and her only daughter, whom the narrator resents for what he sees as ingratitude. Deeply in love with the taciturn Cheffe, who makes him her confidante but doesn’t return his feelings, the narrator acknowledges his bias but insists on the accuracy of his insights.
“Like the Cheffe’s recipes, at first tantalizingly simple but eventually so austere they threaten to ‘tumble into fruitlessness’ and become useless, the narrator’s efforts to describe the Cheffe’s mind and heart are both enthralling and fundamentally unreliable as a record of her life. Readers will be consumed by this tale of talent and obsession, even as the Cheffe herself remains both fascinating and mysterious.”
“A finely constructed work with a surprising and satifying ending, like a fine meal leading up to a delicious dessert.” –Reba Leiding, LIBRARY JOURNAL
Translated from the French
by Jordan Stump.
287 pages. $26.95 ISBN 978-0-525-52047-4
To interview the author, contact:
Sarah New | 212-572-2103 | firstname.lastname@example.org