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The Cook: A Novel

Maylis de Kerangal | Translated by Sam Taylor

Maylis de Kerangal follows up her acclaimed novel The Heart with a dissection of the world of a young Parisian chef.

More like a poetic biographical essay on a fictional person than a novel, The Cook is a coming-of-age journey centered on Mauro, a young self-taught cook. The story is told by an unnamed female narrator, Mauro’s friend and disciple who we also suspect might be in love with him. Set not only in Paris but in Berlin, Thailand, Burma, and other far-flung places over the course of fifteen years, the book is hyperrealistic - to the point of feeling, at times, like a documentary. It transcends this simplistic form, however, through the lyricism and intensely vivid evocative nature of Maylis de Kerangal’s prose, which conjures moods, sensations, and flavors, as well as the exhausting rigor and sometimes violent abuses of kitchen work.

In The Cook, we follow Mauro as he finds his path in life: baking cakes as a child; cooking for his friends as a teenager; a series of studies, jobs, and travels; a failed love affair; a successful business; a virtual nervous breakdown; and—at the end—a rediscovery of his hunger for cooking, his appetite for life.

Originally published by Le Seuil in 2016 with the title Un chemin de table. Translation available from March 26.

Learn more about the book here.


Maylis de Kerangal is the author of several novels in French, including Naissance d’un pont (published in English as Birth of a Bridge, winner of the Prix Franz Hessel and Prix Médicis in 2010). She has also published a story collection, and a novella, Tangente vers l’est (winner of the 2012 Prix Landerneau). In 2014, Réparer les vivants was published to wide acclaim and won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire and the Student Choice Novel of the Year from France Culture and Télérama. Its English translation, The Heart (FSG, 2016), was one of The Wall Street Journal’s Ten Best Fiction Works of 2016 and was the winner of the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize. She lives in Paris, France.

Sam Taylor has written for The Guardian, Financial Times, Vogue, and Esquire. He translated Maylis de Kerangal’s The Heart, as well as the award-winning HHhH by Laurent Binet and the internationally bestselling The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.

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