CHEESE. Willem Elsschot, Author, Paul Vincent, Translator, trans. from the Dutch by Paul Vincent. Granta $ (p) ISBN X. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of Cheese by Willem Elsschot. Cheese. Willem Elsschot. Since its publication in English in , ‘Cheese’ has conquered the world with translations in almost 30 languages. The novella deals .

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A bit over halfway through this short novel, Frans Laarmans, an ineffectual clerk at an Antwerp shipyard, has visitors from his office.


He has supposedly been off sick from nerves for weeks, but what he has really been doing is trying to establish himself as a cheese merchant. This is not going well.

His co-workers, or possibly ex-co-workers, paint a vivid picture of the excitement he is missing. We have not cneese encountered any of the people named, but we get the idea of just how thrilling life is at their office.


He finds it when an influential friend of his brother arranges for him to take delivery of and sell 20 tonnes of full-cream edam. There are only a couple of snags: Laarmans has no idea how to go about this, and he hates cheese. He spends ages thinking up a name for his company, trying to find a typewriter, marvelling at his new telephone, writing advertisements for agents his own adverts impress him so much he feels like answering them himself.

Cheese – Willem Elsschot

Meanwhile, his cheese sits stinking in a warehouse. Sisyphus, you feel, had a more productive relationship with his boulder. Although I only have a rough idea of how old exactly. Congratulations to the publisher for bringing this little classic to our attention.

Cheese – Alma Books

A Novel is published by Alma. There had been quite a number of changes at the office in those few weeks.

They were now facing away from the window instead of the other way around. Topics Fiction in translation Nicholas Lezard’s choice.


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