When the ambitious but inept clerk Frans Laarmans is offered a job managing an Edam distribution company in Antwerp, he jumps at the chance, despite his professed dislike for cheese in all its forms. He soon finds himself submerged in a bureaucratic nightmare as his complete incompetence becomes apparent. Meanwhile, his offices fill up with a seemingly infinite supply of the distinctive red-skinned cheeses, which he has no idea how to sell.
Skewering the pomposity of big business while revealing how an entrepreneurial spirit can often be a mask for buffoonery, Willem Elsschot’s Cheese combines comedy and pathos in its depiction of a man trying to progress beyond his limited skill set. As poignant as it is funny, Cheese will appeal to anyone who has suffered the endless indignities of office life.
Willem Elsschot was the pen name of Alphonsus Josephus de Ridder, an Antwerp advertising executive who became an icon of Flemish literature. His concise, witty and often cynical novels satirize the mundanity of twentieth-century life and are cherished throughout Belgium and Holland.