We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

The Cheffe

On sale

14th November 2019

Price: £9.99

Select a format

Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9780857058911

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

“Marie NDiaye is so intelligent, so composed, so good, that any description of her work feels like an understatement” – Madeleine Schwartz, New York Review of Books

“Rich, meandering . . . NDiaye excels at luscious, forensic descriptions of the ritualistic preparation of food” – Catherine Taylor, Mail on Sunday

The Cheffe is born into an impoverished family in Sainte-Bazeille in south-western France, but when she takes a job working in the kitchen of a couple in the Landes region, it does not take long before it becomes clear that the Cheffe has an unusual, remarkable talent for cooking. She dreams in recipes, she’s always imagining new food combinations, she hunts down elusive flavours and aromas, and she soon usurps the couple’s cook.

But for all her genius, the Cheffe remains very secretive about the rest of her life. She becomes pregnant, but will not reveal her daughter’s father. She shares nothing of her feelings or emotions. And when the demands of her work and caring for her child become too much, she leaves her baby in the care of her family, and sets out to open her own restaurant, which will soon win rave reviews and be lauded by all.

But her relationship with her daughter will never be easy, and before long, it will threaten to destroy everything the Cheffe has spent her life perfecting.

Translated from the French by Jordan Stump.


Olivia de Lamberterie, Elle
A magnificent novel. A story of slow, violent beauty
Jérôme Garcin, Obs
Seared with incandescent prose, imbued with generosity, The Cheffe is the work of a supreme writer
Catherine Taylor, Mail on Sunday
Rich, meandering . . . NDiaye excels at luscious, forensic descriptions of the ritualistic preparation of food
Nathalie Crom, Télérama
The Cheffe joins the remarkable procession of intense, passionate heroines of Marie NDiaye
Madeleine Schwartz, New York Review of Books
There's the evenness of her prose, eminently polished, deliciously rhythmic, that seems to glide over the violence underneath . . . Who is this writer? And how did she get to be so good?
Nelly Kaprièlian, Les Inrockuptibles
A virtuoso novel that borrows from the classics to create the life of a cheffe. Subtly sublime