Cheffe: A Cooks Novel
Born into poverty in southwestern France, as a teenager the Cheffe takes a job working for a wealthy couple in a neighboring town. It is not long before it becomes clear that she has an unusual, remarkable talent for cooking, and soon her sheer talent and ambition put her in charge of the couple’s kitchen. Though she revels in the culinary spotlight, the Cheffe remains secretive about the rest of her life. She shares nothing of her feelings or emotions. She becomes pregnant but will not reveal her daughter’s father. And when the demands of her work become too great, she leaves her baby in the care of her family and sets out to open her own restaurant, to rave reviews. As time goes on, the Cheffe’s relationship with her daughter remains fraught, and eventually it threatens to destroy everything the Cheffe has spent her life perfecting. Told from the perspective of the Cheffe’s former assistant and unrequited lover, this stunning novel by Marie NDiaye is a gustatory tour de force.
“Marie NDiaye is so intelligent, so composed, so good, that any description of her work feels like an understatement.” - The New York Review of Books
“Beautiful. . . . A story about impressions, ideas, and the extreme subtleties of human relationships.” - Chicago Review of Books
“An arresting portrait of a self-effacing genius.” - The New Yorker
“Luminous. . . . Any woman who has ever allowed her career to take precedence, even for an hour, over her offspring, will cringe in understanding.” - The Washington Post
Paperback. January 19, 2021