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The Dishwasher

The Dishwasher is a novel by Stéphane Larue, translated by Pablo Strauss.

Stéphane Larue, translated by Pablo Strauss

It's October in Montreal, 2002, and winter is coming on fast. Past due on his first freelance gig and ensnared in lies to his family and friends, a graphic design student with a gambling addiction goes after the first job that promises a paycheck: dishwasher at the sophisticated La Trattoria. Though he feels out of place in the posh dining room, warned by the manager not to enter through the front and coolly assessed by the waitstaff in their tailored shirts, nothing could have prepared him for the tension and noise of the kitchen, or the dishpit's clamour and steam.

Thrust on his first night into a roiling cast of characters all moving with the whirlwind speed of the evening rush, it's not long before he finds himself in over his head once again. A vivid, magnificent debut, with a soundtrack by Iron Maiden, The Dishwasher plunges us into a world in which everyone depends on each other — for better and for worse. (From Biblioasis)

The French version of the book, Le Plongeur, won the Prix des libraires du Québec and the Prix Senghor and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award for French-language fiction. The Dishwasher is Stéphane Larue's first book.

The Dishwasher is on the Canada Reads 2020 longlist. The final five books and their champions will be revealed on Jan. 22, 2020.

From the book

"So you're Dave's buddy. I hope you're a little faster than he was."

In a move to show some initiative I picked up some of the dishes lying on the floor and walked Toward the staircase.

"Where the hell you going with that?"

"Uh, I'm bringing it. To start washing the dishes. Looks like there's a lot."

"Leave it, we don't have time for that yet."

I pictured the giant mess in the dishpit, and wondered what could possibly be more urgent than tackling the mountains of dirty dishes and pans sitting there waiting for me.

"Come with me, you've got something else to do first. I'll show you how to do the dishes later."

Bébert had a round face and fleshy cheeks like a little boy, but you'd have to be a brave man to pinch them. He was missinga tooth and his thick, solid mass filled out his chef 's coat. A beer belly was beginning to grow. Rolled-up sleeves revealed three or four unfinished tattoos on his forearms. Instead of a chef 's hat like the other cooks, he wore a Cleveland Indians cap over a shaved head. His pants were too big, sagging like the rappers of the day. He must have been twenty-four or twenty-five back then, but he gave the impression of an older man.


From The Dishwasher by Stéphane Larue, translated by Pablo Strauss.  ©2019. Published by Biblioasis

Interviews with Stéphane Larue 

Stephane Larue had the least glamourous job at a restaurant: a dishwasher. But it gave him an inside look at the hard-living characters working in frenetic, stress-filled kitchens. He turned those experiences into a novel, The Dishwasher, that takes the reader into the demi-monde of restaurant kitchens. It became a sensation and a big award-winner in Quebec and has just been translated into English. 20:52

More about The Dishwasher

Catherine LeRoux talks to Shelagh Rogers about a couple of the latest books in translation. 10:35