Pierre is a veteran bartender in a café on the outskirts of Paris. When the café goes under, he is at a loss for what to do next: at 56 years old, he’s too young for retirement and too weary to move blithely on to another job. Pierre gains our trust immediately through his perceptive eye and understated wit. As we follow his inner monologue over the course of three days, his sensitivity and profound solitude are revealed. While a quiet book, the themes it brings into play are immense: the terror of aging, the need for human contact (however superficial), and our precarious dependence on forces beyond our control. The Waitress Was New is a moving portrait of human anguish and weakness, of understated nobility and strength.
The reserved, melancholy, and resigned tone that Fabre strikes is maintained beautifully throughout the book, and he has given Pierre just enough wit to lighten things up from time to time. [ . . . ] This is a quiet book, but one that promises to stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
— E.J. Van Lanen
The strong, intimate voice of this gentle, canny narrator continues to stay with us long after we reach the end of The Waitress Was New—what an engrossing, captivating tale, in Jordan Stump’s sensitive translation.
— Lydia Davis
For his U.S. debut, Fabre offers a poignantly funny, slender slice of a French waiter’s life...In Fabre’s patient, deliberative layering, the details of Pierre’s quotidian life assume an affecting solidity and significance.
— Publishers Weekly
Fabre becomes the lyrical, compassionate spectator of all these infinitesimal, silent lives—our lives—as they move between leaving the suburban underground station and arriving home. It is a tiny fragment of life, simply told and yet touching in the extreme. When Fabre writes, he ‘really believes in the possibility of showing you genuine beauty, genuine dignity and places or people that have been somehow overlooked.’ Mission accomplished.
— French Book News