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The most translated Flemish novel ever


Willem Elsschot

Since its publication in English in 2002, ‘Cheese’ has conquered the world with translations in almost 30 languages. The novella deals with an episode in the life of Frans Laarmans, a clerk who is suddenly made chief representative in Belgium and Luxembourg of a Dutch cheese company. Laarmans is saddled with a consignment of 370 cases containing 10,000 full-cream Edam cheeses. He stores the cheese in his cellar, sets up an office and waits. But nothing happens. Ultimately disillusioned, Laarmans ends up back in his job as clerk.

One can speak of Elsschot’s oeuvre as great European literature
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

‘Cheese’ is a satire of the hard business world and the perfect vehicle for Elsschot’s dry humorous style. In a brilliant evocation of the thirties, it depicts a world full of smart operators and failed businessmen.

The book is, above all, about human shortcomings and no one writes about them as well as Elsschot does. In the words of his fellow writer Louis Paul Boon: ‘He loves like a mother and makes assessments like a bailiff.’ Elsschot is one of the greatest twentieth-century Dutch-language writers and generation after generation has had the pleasure of rediscovering his small but masterly oeuvre.

No one portrays the failures of the petit-bourgeoisie like Elsschot – ruthlessly, yet full of mercy *****
A masterpiece… and one that’s enormous fun to read
Kirkus Reviews