wayne macauley the cookThe Cook

The Cook, Text Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781921758690. 304pgs. RRP A$29.95. Also published in UK (Quercus), Canada (Penguin) & Turkey (Ithakai)

'A riot of a book... genuinely gripping... beautifully subversive. I loved it.' - Nick Cave

ABC Radio National: 'Favourite Australian Fiction Title of 2011'
Weekend Australian: 'Essential Summer Reading'& 'Books of the Year'
Readings Bookshop: 'Best Fiction of 2011'
Sunday Herald Sun: 'Best of This Year's Releases'
Shortlisted: 2011 WA Premier's Book Award for Fiction
Shortlisted: 2012 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction
Shortlisted: 2012 Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award
WINNER: 2012 Most Underrated Book Award

thecookukpb1 August 2013. The Cook (UK) re-jacketed and reissued in paperback.

"thought-provoking and brilliant" - The Guardian
"as tightly structured as a thriller" - Irish Examiner
"original, ambitious and disturbing" - Glasgow Herald

cookukhard8 November 2012. The Cook published in the UK by Quercus.

turkishcook1 October 2012. The Cook (Aşçı, trns. İlker Sönmez) published in Turkey by Ithaki.cookcanada31 July 2012. The Cook published in Canada by Penguin. wayne macauley the cook3 October 2011. The Cook published by Text.

(old to new...)

   "Irresistible... The Cook reminds us just how exciting it is to read a wonderful and original novel."
Lloyd Jones, Booker-shortlisted author of Mr Pip  

"On the surface this novel plays on our obsession with reality TV, fame and in particular cooking shows
such as MasterChef. But as you read on it becomes apparent that questions of class, aspiration and success
are at the heart of this complex, nuanced book.... This is a black parable on contemporary society."
Tim Coronel, Bookseller & Publisher

"Wayne Macauley's brilliant new novel... What lifts The Cook above mere satire is Macauley's vision,
his tangled world of desire and denial, have and have not; put simply, his language. The prose
captures everything, all thoughts flying by: fatigue, confusion, rage, information overload,
youthful insouciance, moral blankness. This is a novel about the screaming mess ninety-nine
per cent of the world finds itself in.... Wayne Macauley has written a great book.."
Adam Rivett, Australian Book Review

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is almost a work of genius...
an astounding book.... I absolutely recommend it."
 Sonja de Freiz,
Radio New Zealand
(Listen here.)

"one of the best Australian novels of recent times... enthralling... breathtakingly poetic
and compelling... a timely wake-up call for all of us to reflect on our values
in our media-saturated, overtly materialist culture.
Martin Shaw, Readings Monthly

"Melbourne-based Macauley has been honing his comic skills as a novelist and short-story writer
for the better part of two decades, and The Cook is often very funny indeed...But there is real savagery
underlying the novel's vision of a society whose idea of ambition has decayed into a crude desire
for social status and material advancement... The Cook is a confident and potent piece of work.
With its claustrophobic first-person narration and its appealing combination of black humour
and broad comedy... Macauley has also crafted an unmistakable Australian voice...
James Ley, Weekend Australian
(Read the full review here.)

"This is not a book you would recommend to a vegetarian... Macauley cuts into his characters with a razor sharp
intensity... It’s certain to be a favourite with bookclubs, generating a great deal of discussion and dissenting
there are images that will play in the imagination for a long time after you put it down..."
Fiona Mackrell, ArtsHub
(Read the full review here.)

"Melbourne writer Wayne Macauley's third novel is an astonishingly original and deliciously good read.
His stream of consciousness-like prose perfectly captures Zac's raw energy and the rhythm of his
growing ambitions... In a world where TV contestants dream of one day becoming a chef,
Macauley reminds us of the primal essence of what gets served up for dinner...
Dan Stock, Sunday Herald Sun
(Must Read)

"The voice of Zac is as clear as a bell... a wonderful tension slowly builds - almost imperceptibly -
to a conclusion that will leave a reader thinking on it for days to come."
Amanda Horswill, Brisbane Sunday Mail
(Book of the Week) 

"This is a novel that punctuates the fine life, eviscerates food wankery and highlights the emptiness
and decay of the distracted and wealthy... Macauley has so effectively captured the voice of Zac,
who believes this is the life he wants, when the dream starts to unravel we are
immersed in Zac's delusion along with him."
Rachel Edwards, The Book Show
(Read the full transcript or listen to the audio here.)

"an independent talent with a capacity to surprise... nothing prepares us for the shocking dislocation of the
story that Macauley ventures. The Cook ends as desolately as any Australian novel of recent years."
Peter Pierce, Canberra Times
"Once you have become accustomed to the stream of consciousness and racing thoughts of its narrator
and hero, Zac, this brilliant and richly layered book by Melbourne author Wayne Macauley is almost
impossible to put down... Macauley is writing about nothing less than the social, cultural and moral
excesses of late capitalism...  Readers who are shocked by [the ending]
will be kicking themselves for not seeing it coming..."
Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald
(Pick of the Week)

"brilliantly done... The Cook is a droll satire that could only have been written in our times.
It's a dark parable that deserves to race up international bestseller lists."
Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers blog
(Read full review here.)

"In the past few years, Wayne Macauley has published some of the most memorable fiction
going in this country... he has a prose style of remarkable poise and control that can allow
his narratives to take off into the bizarre without ever losing their cool... [The Cook] is
Macauley's longest novel so far and marks a brilliant development in his dark vision
of the way we live. Zac's hectically unpunctuated voice modulates between flatness
and moments of guarded emotion... he is so strange that expressions such as
'anti-hero' or even 'sacred monster' hardly come close. He is
unsettling but horribly mesmerising company..."
Owen Richardson, Sunday Age
(Review of the Week) 
(Read the full review here.)

"Macauley's prose is loose and blunt, with hardly any punctuation. At first this seems like a barrier to
engaging with the story, but like taking a jog on a frosty morning, once you get
used to it, you don't want to stop... Macauley weaves a gentle sense of horror
throughout... This book is a gritty, tactile antidote to MasterChef."
Rebecca Butterworth, Good Reading Magazine

"Zac is brought to life so clearly and so rapidly that it is easy to forget he was ever anything but a
master chef in the making...  [his] distinctive stream-of-consciousness narrative sets a great pace,
without commas, using full-stops sparingly, his sentences running into each other... It's a
testament to Macauley's narrative dexterity that this style, which could prove irritating
and difficult to read, is quite the opposite: it quickly becomes impossible to imagine
the story being written any other way. This decision was an audacious move that
entirely pays off; here is an author in command of his story, his characters,
his language and the world he has created. The Cook is a novel for savouring
but difficult not to devour in one sitting. Compulsory reading..."
Louise Swinn, Saturday Age
 (Read the full review here.)

"... utterly compelling.... I haven’t read anything so strikingly ‘original’ for a while... What is fascinating
(and part of what makes it original) is for the majority of the novel, nothing much goes wrong.
It defies a kind of traditional, learned narrative logic. Protagonists are supposed to get into
shit, aren’t they, and struggle to get out of it? But Zac rises and rises. And yet… you feel a
little ill. When is it coming? you think. You know there’s something not quite right... the voice
and pace are brilliant. And all the pieces add up to make a rich, dark, bloody puzzle. It’s
black, it leaves you reeling. You’ll think about it long after putting the book down."
Angela Meyer, Southerly
(Read the full review here.)

"The Cook is a gobsmacker of a book.... an antidote to fiction that too often massages misplaced beliefs
in our selves, our society and our humanity. It is impossible to read The Cook and not examine your
own conscience. And it has a sense of humour, albeit a dark one. The Cook is one of the
most disturbing novels I’ve read in a long time."
Trish Bolton, Overland
(Read the full review here)

"My, this is a good book.... the larger picture is as frightening as the denouement. In the world of food
– working class butchers, obsequious deli owners, farmers, even celebrity chefs – things are broken.
The dream of money and fame, the aspirational velocity that Australians have been repeatedly told
is what we all should have – it’s in tatters. And therein lies the true wonder of this novel."
Anna Hedigan, The Moral High Ground
 (Read the full review here)

"A riot of a book... genuinely gripping... beautifully subversive. I loved it."
Nick Cave

"black as pitch... wincingly funny, a brilliant skewering of late-capitalism in its decadent phase."
Jennifer Byrne, Australian Women's Weekly

"a writer who is quintessentially of his place and time... The Cook, a darkly satirical reply to
Australia's Master Chef-driven reality cooking show obsession, was one of
the most surprising and vivid fictions of the year..."
Sam Twyford-Moore, The Australian


"What makes it so compelling is its wild narrative style. It's Zac's world and from the first sentence we dive
into his crazed, tumbling mind... Macauley's brilliant use of stream-of-consciousness prose,
like James Joyce on LSD, sucks you in relentlessly. This is a satiric novel of rigour,
strange beauty, and impeccable, brazen style."

Rory Runnells, Winnipeg Free Press 
(Read the full review here)

"a deliciously dark satire about foodyism, celebrity chefs and aspiring consumerism.
Macauley’s stream-of-consciousness prose has a compulsive vitality, and Zac is
engaging, even at his most repellent, with a pungent line in put-downs…
A cautionary tale with a macabre finale."
Clare Colvin, Daily Mail

(Read the full review here)

"It’s been a long time since I read a novel I enjoyed as much as this one. The second I finished it
I told the person next to me they should read it. Then all my friends. Then
anybody who might be unfortunate enough to ask me about books…
Read it! Everybody read it! You have to read it too!"


"Wayne Macauley's wildly entertaining tale of a teenage delinquent turned aspiring chef...
The Cook is entirely unique… a fierce readability, propelling you through the pages…
you are very unlikely to read a more memorable ending to a book this year.
 A fun, high-octane, Bourdain-busting book.."

Mark Staniforth, Eleutherophobia  (UK)

"There’s vicious commentary here on the pretentious nature of foodie obsession, on consumerism,
on fame and riches. Told in first person, the intense, difficult Zac is worryingly good company.
Jamie Oliver’s social conscience meets Antony Bourdain’s sense of anarchy in fiction
- with a real twist in the tale at the end. Great."

Viv Groskop, Red Magazine Online (UK)

"Wayne Macauley doesn’t give simple answers, but his novel is also a brilliant example of voice and viewpoint.
You hear Zac’s comma-free gabble in your head and become so absorbed in his perspective that you
start to lose sight of what’s happening around him. That is, until the ending, when the full implications
of this partial viewpoint are revealed. The Cook has one of the most shocking and surprising
endings I have read in quite some time. It puts the cap on a fine novel,
and helps mark out Macauley as a writer worth following."

David Hebblethwaite, We Love This Book  (UK)

"Wayne Macauley’s rather excellent new novel… an authentic and compelling central voice.
Macauley picks apart the current food-worshipping culture with great wit and provides
a suitably stunning conclusion to what is a work of great originality."

Chris Bradshaw, thebookbag (UK)

"vivid and engaging…The Cook is now leading the competition for my mythical '2012 Ending of the Year Award'.
To say any more would ruin it, but I haven’t enjoyed an ending as much as this in a long time…
an original, gripping novel that questions the way our society operates.
Highly recommended.
Jackie Bailey, Farm Lane Books (UK)

"There are no commas in this book, no moments to breathe in the cut-throat world of high finance and late
capitalism that it both satirises and gruesomely dramatises. But each time you think you've reached the
limits of this thought-provoking and brilliant novel, it just gets deeper. And the inevitable, but still very
shocking, ending is exactly right, like a smear of perfect narrative jus.
Scarlett Thomas, The Guardian (UK)

"The Cook is a marvellous experiment in voice... assays fine dining and late capitalism from the perspective
of a damaged and unreliable narrator. I enjoyed it immensely..."
David Evans, Financial Times (UK)

"a compelling read... as tightly structured as a thriller... hilarious... consistently entertaining, often shocking...
a serious critique of the moral vacuum at the core of a society that values money and novelty above all else."
Alannah Hopkin, Irish Examiner

"The orgiastic pretensiousness of high-end cuisine is a world that's ripe for satire, and that's just
the starting point for this original, ambitious and disturbing Australian novel... What begins
as a succinct skewering of culinary pompousness... turns into a scathing commentary
into the failings of consumerism... [a] focused, rapier-like attack."
Glasgow Herald

"Wayne Macauley's The Cook is more than just a brilliant satire, it's a viciously funny black
comedy with an oh-my-goodness-I-didn't-see-that-coming shock ending... deliciously dark
and subversive... The Cook is a deeply unsettling read but it's a thrilling one, too...
I know that I will be thinking about it for a long time to come ..."
Kim Forrester,  Reading Matters (UK)

Links:  The Cook at Text Publishing
               The Cook at Penguin Canada
               The Cook at Quercus
               The Cook at Readings

               The Cook
at Goodreads