The Apologist, Jay Rayner

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Marc Basset, restaurant critic for a national newspaper, has made vitriol his trademark. His vivid cruelty makes his many readers laugh – until, one day, a chef roasts himself to death in his bread oven, leaving behind Bassett’s scathing review of his restaurant stuck to the door. When Marc learns of the chef’s suicide, he experiences an entirely new sensation: remorse. And, by apologising to the wife and daughter of the deceased, he begins to experience levels of self-satisfaction that even he never thought possible.

As Marc begins to apologise for anything and everything he’s ever done, he discovers that saying sorry can be every bit as pleasurable as the Varlhona Manjari chocolate he devours nightly. And, after atoning to an ex-girlfriend with high-level political connections, he finds himself offered the role of Chief Apologist for the United Nations, which brings with it a private jet, a rent-free apartment, an enormous salary and a sizeable cut of any compensatory payments made between nations. All he has to do is say sorry for the world’s wrongs – and cook the dinners to prove it. He is adored, loved and admired; an entirely new sensation for the perennially loveless Bassett. But will all this attention go to his head?

The Apologist is a deliciously funny satire on the complexity and greed of international – and personal – politics, as well as a powerful paean to the diplomatic role of a well-made almond soufflé.

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