|Followed by||Sartre's Sink|
Kafka's Soup is a literary pastiche in the form of a cookbook. It contains 14 recipes each written in the style of a famous author from history. As of 2007 it had been translated into 18 languages and published in 27 countries. Excerpts from the book have appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and the New York Times. Theatrical performances of the recipes have taken place in France and Canada.
Recipes include: tiramisu as made by Proust, cheese on toast by Harold Pinter, clafoutis grandmere by Virginia Woolf, chocolate cake prepared by Irvine Welsh, lamb with dill sauce by Raymond Chandler, onion tart by Chaucer, fenkata (rabbit stew) by Homer, boned stuffed poussins by the Marquis de Sade, mushroom risotto by John Steinbeck, tarragon eggs by Jane Austen, Vietnamese chicken by Graham Greene and Kafka's Miso soup. Also included are recipes in the style of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez.
Among the recipes that did not make the original edition of the book was "plum pudding à la Charles Dickens" which was written but rejected by Mark Crick for being "too long-winded". It was, however, included in a subsequent paperback edition of the book along with two recipes, Rösti à la Thomas Mann and moules marinieres à la Italo Calvino, originally created for the German and Italian translations respectively.
Kafka's Soup is Mark Crick's first book. He has subsequently written two other books with similar themes; Sartre's Sink and Machiavelli's Lawn which are literary pastiches in the form of a DIY handbook and a gardening book respectively.
Writing Kafka's Soup
The idea for Kafka's Soup arose during a conversation between Crick and a publisher. Crick noted his dislike for cookbooks saying that he enjoyed looking at the pictures but found the accompanying text dull. When asked what would it take for him to read beyond the ingredients list he replied "if [the text] was written by the world's greatest authors." The publisher liked the idea and, in Crick's words, "she said that if I wrote it she'd publish it."
Most of the recipes in the book are Crick's own, although some, such as the chocolate cake, came from his friends. Crick notes the implausibility of some of his authors cooking their stated dishes (for example he states that John Steinbeck "would never have eaten [mushroom risotto]" and "I certainly accept any challenge that Kafka would not have eaten miso soup"). He says that he selected the recipes based on the ability of each dish to allow him to use the language he wished to use. Chocolate cake was selected for Irvine Welsh because "people become terribly selfish when there's chocolate cake around, just as they do with drugs. It's the closest many get to taking heroin."
Kafka's Soup has become a cult hit. Andy Miller of the Telegraph called the recipes "note-perfect parodies of literary greats". Emily Stokes of the Observer called it an "illustrated masterpiece of pastiche" citing the lamb with dill sauce as "particularly good". C J Schüler wrote that Virginia Woolf's clafoutis grandmere is the "pièce de resistance" and called the collection "irresistibly moreish". He later called the book "a little gem of literary impersonation". Schüler believes that "part of the book's appeal lies in the fact that the recipes...actually work." The French writer and satirist Patrick Rambaud has named Kafka's soup as one of his favourite parodies, noting the inclusion of parodies of continental European authors such as Proust and the Marquis de Sade in addition to English-speaking authors.
As of 2007 Kafka's Soup had been translated into 18 languages and published in 27 countries. The Croatian translation proved more popular than The Da Vinci Code, forcing it in to second place on the country's best seller list. Each recipe in the French version was translated by a separate translator specialising in the translation of the works of the parodied author.
In England, the recipes have reportedly been used as audition pieces by a small West Country theatre company. The Théâtre de l'Atelier in Paris hosted a performance of the French translation of the book in 2007. The production included performances by Irène Jacob, Isabelle Carré and Denis Podalydès, including a sung version of the recipe for onion tart. A live reading of the French translation of Kafka's Soup took place at the Montreal Festival International de la Littérature in 2007 with the author in attendance. The production received an additional performance run in the Terrebonne suburb of Montreal in 2009.
- C J Schüler (24 May 2007). "The ultimate literary lunch: recipes from classic authors". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Later editions contain 17 recipes due to the inclusion of recipes written for the German and Italian editions and the incorporation of a previously rejected recipe in the style of Charles Dickens.
- Larissa Dubecki (16 October 2007). "Literary lunching in the Kaf". The Age. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- John Saxby (22 August 2006). "Literary diet". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- "On the Lamb". New York Times. 3 December 2006. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Jean-Paul Brighelli (5 March 2011). "Patrick Rambaud, chroniqueur caustique du règne sarkozyste". Marianne. Retrieved 27 May 2011. In French
- C J Schüler (13 November 2005). "Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Emily Stokes (18 November 2007). "Between homelands". The Observer. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Catherine Milner (27 August 2005). "If Kafka made the dinner...". Telegraph. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Rosie Blau (13 December 2008). "Brick lit". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- "Loose Ends 26/02/2011". BBC. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Joanna Rabiger (8 September 2006). "In the Kitchen with Kafka". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Will Gore (6 May 2009). "Sartre sinks in for Mark Crick". Surrey Comet. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Andy Miller (24 November 2007). "Christmas books: Humour". Telegraph. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- "French literary fest goes beyond books". Montreal Gazette. 22 August 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
- Tristan Malavoy-Racine (22 January 2009). "Quand l'appétit va". Voir. Retrieved 28 May 2011. In French