'Delicious' New York Times
'As if The Remains of the Day had been written by Kingsley Amis . . . brilliantly exquisite . . . This book is a meal you won’t want to finish.' J. Ryan Stradal
'A sly amuse bouche of a novel . . . its atmosphere and observations are deliciously rich.' Mail on Sunday
Welcome to The Hills, Oslo’s most esteemed restaurant, an institution stewed in tradition and clinging to the faded grandeur of old Europe.
A neurotic waiter tends to the desires of his regular – and irregular – clientele. Aristocrats and artistes, wealthy widows and roguish entrepreneurs, he observes all their dramas with a wit as sharp as a filleting knife.
At table ten sits the impeccable Mr Graham, the most demanding of them all, impatiently awaiting a special guest. When at last she arrives – young, beautiful, mysterious – she will prove a challenging new flavour, throwing into disarray our waiter’s nerves, and the delicately balanced ingredients of the room.
Exquisitely observed and wickedly playful, The Waiter is a novel for lovers of food, wine, and of European sensibilities, but also for anyone who spends time in restaurants, on either side of the service.
Faldbakken's English-language debut is an ambitious, contained story set entirely in a grand old restaurant in Oslo called The Hills, narrated by a seasoned waiter over the course of a few gorgeous meals. The waiter and others on the staff the nosy bar manager mixing drinks, the snooty maitre d' sneaking drinks, the silent chef find themselves ever more scandalized by the uncharacteristic behavior of their usually impeccably mannered clientele (one even takes out his phone) after a beautiful young woman joins the intimate setting. The waiter becomes so unsettled by the disruption of his establishment's quotidian rituals that he finds himself in the kitchen smashing all the chef's cherry tomatoes in the garlic press. He is almost completely undone when another patron asks to leave his daughter at the restaurant while he goes on a day trip, but the waiter musters enormous kindness by entertaining the child with an unusual-looking cauliflower. The story is absurd when the scents of two diners mix, it is "equivalent to the miracle of mayonnaise... something completely new and special occurs between them" about nothing, and everything. Faldbakken's story vandalizes the old world the restaurant represents by revealing its inanities, while at the same time eulogizing it by making it his subject, resulting in a clever, striking novel.