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The Dishwasher

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,997 ratings  ·  197 reviews
It’s winter in Montreal, 2002, when a graphic design student’s gambling addiction starts to drag him under. In debt to the metal band that’s commissioned him to draw their album cover and ensnared in lies to his friends and his cousin, he takes the first job that promises a paycheck: dishwasher at La Trattoria, a high-end restaurant, where he finds himself thrust, on his f ...more
Paperback, 405 pages
Published September 26th 2019 by Biblioasis (first published October 25th 2016)
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Mia Gorden Je n'ai pas bien saisi non plus. Mais on peut supposer qu'il s'est encore enrouler dans des affaires pas nettes. J'avoue que ça laisse sous-entendre q…moreJe n'ai pas bien saisi non plus. Mais on peut supposer qu'il s'est encore enrouler dans des affaires pas nettes. J'avoue que ça laisse sous-entendre qu'il va se faire tabasser ou tuer... (less)

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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  1,997 ratings  ·  197 reviews

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Mar 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Well, I forced myself to 120 pages, so technically a DNF. The protagonist had a gambling addiction, trying hard to stay afloat. After securing a job as the dishwasher in a fine dining restaurant and hearing of his experiences, I wore very tired as each night it was the same. I think at this point March 21, 2020 in the middle of a world crisis, I need a totally different subject matter. I may also just stick to some good feel cooking and re-organizing my bookshelves and office. Hang in there ever ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This read as perhaps a thinly veiled autobiographical novel by a Quebecois author, set in Montreal in the 1990s, circling around the themes of what it's like to be down and out from a gambling addiction and thrust from a comfortable private school and intact family life into the chaotic world of bottom-barrel restaurant work as a dishwasher. The narrator is into metal music, and since I also got into metal for a while, it was really fun to recognize the names of bands I knew. The world he paints ...more
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heartwarming, hard-to-put-down memoir of personal struggle and rough coming of age. Written in simple, easy-flowing language, Le Plongeur seduces the reader from the first page and carries the momentum all through the rest. A wonderful achievement - I'm interested in reading more by the author in the future!
Carrie Ford-Jones
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kicking off Canada Reads 2020 with this book (I read the English translation but couldn’t find it on Good Reads). I wanted to give this book 3.5 stars so I rounded up. It was an engaging read but too long. It would have been just as good if it were about 2/3 of the length. Gave me a glimpse into the behind the scenes of restaurant kitchens (as well as making me crave pasta the whole time I was reading). Also, I knew very little about gambling addiction and this was an interesting glimpse into on ...more
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A car crash you can't look away from story of a gambling addict trying to survive by becoming a dishwasher. One of my fave books of the year just for the intimacy of the subject and the way the characters come alive. It just grabs you with its honesty no matter how much the main character may lie to everyone including himself. Truly powerful. Yeah, I really digged this book.
Anne Logan
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
As I write this review, The Dishwasher by Stephane Laure, translated from the French by Pablo Strauss was named winner of the Amazon Canada First Novel Award just a few days ago. A prize devoted to first-time novelists only, it’s a highly-coveted way of launching one’s writing career, and the purse ain’t too shabby at $60,000. A few weeks ago when the shortlist was announced, I recognized The Dishwasher on the list because it had been on my bookshelf for a few months and I kept meaning to get to ...more
Ally Geist
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. I hadn't read literary fiction in a while, and this reminded me why I like it so much. Stéphane Larue creates a nuanced, beautiful, relatable world that captivated me from the first few pages. Larue tackles themes of addiction, uncertainty, and loneliness in an authentic and moving way. The translation was also very well done, and stayed true to La Plongeur. I was a bit frustrated by some typographical errors in the text, but the story itself was breathtaking. I would really r ...more
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it
I read the translation, which included multiple passages about how you should never read anything in translation...oops. I enjoyed this book although it felt a bit repetitive by the end; I suppose that’s inevitable with novels that are mostly set in restaurants (I had the same feeling wrt Sweetbitter). It had a really strong sense of place and time - early-2000s Montreal.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book was crazy intense. I was stressed with all the restaurant scenes. It actually brought on a nightmare that I was getting slammed during a rush and wasn’t prepared. Anyway, this book is gritty and real. I very much recommend.
Alexander Kosoris
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
In The Dishwasher, we follow a mostly unnamed narrator as he tries to crawl out of the gutter of his life. The story focuses on his gambling addiction, how it controls him––mind, body, and soul––and causes him not only to fall further and further into debt and effectively drop out of college, but also to alienate basically everyone he cares about. Hounded by his unmet responsibilities to a heavy metal band who paid an advance for a cover artwork commission that he has yet to deliver and by an ex ...more
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book, really great to read. The depictions of working in a kitchen and living in Montreal are completely spot on.
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Inspired by the author’s real life, The Dishwasher, or Le Plongeur as it is known in its’ original French format, is a bustling deep dive into the high end restaurant business from the kitchen side. The narrator is hired as a dishwasher at an upscale restaurant called La Trattoria and soon finds himself covered in sweat, grime and garbage juice while trying to keep up with the endless demands that his position entails. Listening to heavy metal music on a constant loop, the main character, who re ...more
Benjamin Kahn
Apr 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
This was a very well-written book. I'm always a sucker for heavy metal references, and Larue did a great job evoking the environment of a restaurant kitchen. I had forgot that I actually worked briefly as a dishwasher way back in high school until I read this book!

However, I'm not good with books on addiction. I find them frustrating because even though intellectually I understand that it's an addiction, it's not logical, and Larue does a good job of expressing how it looks to the addict, emoti
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
What's crazy about this book is I was going to give up 1/4 way through but my ereader didn't load my other books so I had to continue with this one. I thought this was going to end up sad and so I didn't want to continue it because I didn't want to get hurt because I really liked the main character. I like how much of this book is focused on the relationships between the main character and the others. At times, I didn't know if the main character was a he/she/they because of how little they were ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Feels like a solid 3 1/2 star. It is very focused on the sense of a slow spiral, the addictive pull of mundane jobs and mundane gambling, and the brief high of a bet that scores, all in search of the next. What the book seems to veer away from is the narrator's emotional weight of knowing that he's failing and falling, so that some of the coda--where he starts to change--feels less believable since there's little internal record of the desire to commit to that mindset.

Still, it records the less
rhsa Library
I picked this one up because I used to work in restaurants and the dishwashers came and went, sometimes there was a story or rumors of their dubious past. I'm ashamed to say I never went out of my way to get to know them like I would the other staff. I didn't especially sympathize with this character, his addiction and how he continued to disappoint those who cared for him was frustrating, but it seemed realistic to not have it all work out neatly, as you would want, in the end. I enjoyed this o ...more
Chrystele Chevallier-Grabinska
Written in French with many dialogs in Montreal ways to speak. We are in the heart of Montreal in 2004. The story takes you in the formative year of a young man, student in graphic design, at UQUAM, addicted to games, tempted by gangs and working hard as a dishwasher in the kitchen of a well known restaurant. The story line sounds dark but the book is filled with humour. Each sentence has to be savoured, and since most of it occurred in the back of the restaurant, the language is full of unexpec ...more
Riccardo Lo Monaco
If nothing else, this book is extremely real in its depiction of the life of the kitchen and those who dwell within it. Unfortunately not much else felt real about it. I wonder how much nuance is lost in translation here. Anyway, for someone who has plenty of his own stories about the kitchen that far outweigh these ones in terms of drama and interest, this read fell flat on me. I didn’t hate it, but I’ll forget I even read this book by next week.
Erica B
Sep 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: canada-reads
There were parts of this book I really enjoyed. The kitchen scenes were really well done and a breeze to get through, entertaining and smartly written. But the story just was kind of a mess to me. It needed a better back story or motivation for the protagonist to really care about his plight. And then the ending was quite an anticlimax followed by a suckerpunch. Left me a bit bewildered about it all.
Beth Jusino
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Vivid characters and a breathtakingly intense look at life in a restaurant kitchen, interspersed with the train wreck life of a young man drowning in his gambling addiction. It swings between an engrossing fast pace and the endlessly repetitive poor life choices from everyone on stage, but never quite falls apart. A worthy read in translation,though I think I missed some nuances. And a special treat for fans of heavy metal and late 20th century music, who will most appreciate the soundtrack.
Kim Burgett
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I expected different. My dad was a chef and in the restaurant business his whole life. I thought this was going to paint more of a picture of life in the kitchen, but really it was more of a memoir about one guy and his gambling addictions and it went on and on and on about it. None of the characters were memorable except for the main character and I wouldn’t mind forgetting about him.
Edson Castilho
Pretty intense story about life in a busy restaurant built around a character with a gambling addiction, but for whom everything works out pretty OK in the end. Not much of a plot to drive the story forward, mostly just a description of work in the restaurant which is well done.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that I want to give a five because I know it is really special, but I also didn't enjoy it enough to remember it or to tell someone else that they must read it. And not to be sexist, it seems like such a guy book. And I'm old. And a woman. Sigh.
Nik von Schulmann
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a classic 3.5 rating for me. I really could have used more depth and overall character development. However, the subject matter, locale and Canadian content kept me engaged. I can see this book not being for everyone but I find Kitchen drama fascinating.
Jun 04, 2020 marked it as not-finished
I got to page 80 and decided this was not a book for me. I was so uncomfortable with the narrator's gambling addiction and how he was messing up his life so totally, that I just couldn't bear to go on.
Aug 26, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5 - i don't know if this just didn't translate well, i bought the EN translation after all the raving french reviews but it fell flat for me- drawn out and repetitive at times (i feel like it could have been much shorter) but had the potential to be something really riveting.
Jeanne Austen
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I haven't read a restaurant book in a while; enjoyed this, despite minimal knowledge of metal music. The way Larue describes the gambling addiction is horrific.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read - got lost (in the best way) in the dishpit of this sorta-fancy Montreal restaurant, and couldn't pull myself out.
Mar 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Didn’t finish this book.
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