Erneste works in a grand hotel in Switzerland. He is the 'perfect waiter', a model of order in every way. But inwardly this polite, withdrawn man has been caught in the grip of an overwhelming passion that began in the summer of 1935 with Jakob, a fellow waiter. For Jakob the affair is just a fling, but for Erneste it is true love. When the great German writer Julius Klinger arrives at the hotel, seeking sanctuary from Hitler's Germany, his gaze, too, lights on Jakob. One morning, three decades later, Erneste receives a letter with a US postmark from Jakob asking for help. It is a call that forces Erneste to engage with the world again and risk discovering the truth behind his memories of the great love of his youth. Shifting skilfully between two eras, Sulzer's tense, moving and elegantly written novel is a small masterpiece about the joy and pain of love.
Alain Claude Sulzer was born in Basel in 1953. His first novel was published in 1983 and he has since written four further novels, including Annas Maske (2001) and numerous short stories. A Perfect Waiter is his first novel to be published in English. He lives in Alsace. John Brownjohn is one of Britain's leading German translators and has won critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic including for 'My Wounded Heart': The Life of LIlli Jahn 1900-44 by Martin Doerry (Bloomsbury, 2004). Among his most recent awards are the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for Thomas Brussig's Heroes Like Us and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for Marcel Beyer's The Karnau Tapes.