MixedPopMattersThe simplicity of the story belies the novel\'s stylistic efficiency, which is frankly amazing. De Kerangal is excellent at writing about food ... The segments about food alternate with equally well-executed descriptions of streets, restaurants, markets and cities, which are brought to life with impressionistic sensitivity ... Though the novel is ostensibly about cooking, I would much sooner recommend this as a guide (or even a model for) the craft of writing. De Kerangal has a real gift for juggling narrative techniques that captivate the reader and make her world feel alive ... Unfortunately, what the novel boasts in style, it lacks in substance...often reads like it\'s sketching some sort of aesthetic concern through its story...sticks so closely to the simplicity and the linearity of its premise that deeper meanings are only glimpsed and never found ... As importantly, the narrator (or perhaps the author) too often comes frustratingly short of self-awareness ... There can be no doubt that de Kerangal is an impressively talented writer...When you are ensconced in such disarming romanticism, who needs to bother with responsibility? Not The Cook.
Antoine Laurain, Trans. by Louise Rogers-Lalaurie
RavePopMattersThe essence here is not the investigation, but the murky reasons behind the crimes, and these reasons are at once nostalgic and satirical, romantic and cynical. The plot has a touch of the surreal about it ... Smoking Kills won\'t satisfy you if you\'re looking for a fast-paced crime novel, but it works—and impressively well—in all other respects: the writing here is light, distinctive and drenched with irony. The narrator\'s laconic and sometimes downright insulting comments on everything that surrounds him make for a cynical joy to read ... The book\'s constant interplay between themes of personal and social freedom is not just delightful, it\'s also distinctly adult and unassuming ... factoring in one of the most savage, most gloriously satisfying endings I\'ve read in ages, I can\'t help but recommend this book for what it is: a gem.