Waiting Room Paperback – 15 November 2016
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"The Waiting Room is about Jewish lives, past, present and future.... Readers get snippets of all these rich lives, and a tapestry of characters is born.... The story pulls you in."--New York Journal of Books
"[A] spectacular fiction debut.... A moving psychodrama."--Jewish Telegraphic Agency
"[Kaminsky] brings to the story so much verisimilitude, so much reality, that we can't take our eyes off the page. Her descriptions are rich and vibrant . . . [Kaminsky] is able to weave the surreal throughout her story in such a way that scenes burgeon with timelessness."--The Forward online
"A sharp novel.... Explores intergenerational trauma with approachable simplicity."--Ilana Masad, Slate
"An assured debut.... Compelling, moving and memorable."--Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project
"An evocative tale."--Moment Magazine
"Kaminsky uses the events of one day...to dramatize what it means to live under constant threat. ... [She] brings Dina into sharp focus, while her ghostly mother serves as a strong secondary character, in order to vividly personalize stark news reports."--Booklist
"Kaminsky's prose is deft and delicate, and this novel tackles the haunting of the Holocaust with a tough and remarkably unsentimental gaze."--MJ Hyland, Man Booker Prizer shortlisted author of Carry Me Down
"Leah Kaminsky is a writer on whom nothing is lost. There are many lives, many worlds, and many days in the single day she depicts in The Waiting Room. The novel is a masterful debut."--Joseph Skibell, author of A Curable Romantic
"Potent.... The Waiting Room is both haunted, and haunting."--Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March and The Secret Chord
"She's an evocative storyteller, and she's sensitive to the intersections between physical and emotional pain and the way that memory intrudes upon daily reality."--Kirkus
"The book offers enormous insights into being the child of survivors, but it is also a novel of Israel."--Jweekly.com
"The personal, the political and the medical wrestle with history in this page-turning novel. An engrossing tale that is both acutely worldly and fiercely introspective."--Danielle Ofri, MD, author of What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine
"Vivid, riveting, authentic with emotion and conflict."--Jerome Groopman, M.D.
From the Back Cover
The Waiting Room unfolds over the course of a single life-changing day, but the story it tells spans five decades, three continents, and one family's compelling history of love, war, and survival.
As the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Dina's present has always been haunted by her parents' past. She becomes a doctor, emigrates, and builds a family of her own, yet no matter how hard she tries to move on, their ghosts keep pulling her back. A dark, wry sense of humor helps Dina maintain her sanity amid the constant challenges of motherhood and medicine, but when a terror alert is issued in her adopted city, her coping skills are pushed to the limit.
Interlacing the present and the past over a span of twenty-four hours, The Waiting Room is an intense exploration of what it means to endure a day-to-day existence defined by conflict and trauma, and a powerful reminder of just how fragile life can be. As the clock counts down to a shocking climax, Dina must confront her parents' history and decide whether she will surrender to fear, or fight for love.
- Publisher : Harper Perennial (15 November 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062490478
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062490476
- Dimensions : 13.49 x 1.83 x 20.32 cm
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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During this day, Dina is accompanied by her long-dead mother, who like Samantha’s mother Endora, appears when least expected to give sometimes sage, though often unwelcome, advice. “Her mother’s ghost is like a faithful dog. Difference is, though, you can train a dog to heel.” Dina is reminded of their protected life growing up where her mother always had one eye over the shoulder at the horrors of her past and a suitcase “permanently packed, stashed away in the cupboard, just in case”. And from the back seat of the car or the aisles of the supermarket, her ghostly mother reminds her of stories she would rather forget, of the holocaust, the losses, the pain and awful choices. “She ran from the memory of her mother, who used to shop at the supermarket on Glenhuntly Road by day and trudge through heavy snows of Bergen-Belsen at night.”
Kamisky weaves these three stories as tightly as the braided strands of a challah, so that sometimes you can barely see where one strand finishes and the next takes over. But her real trick has been to add what she has called her “grace notes”; in musical terms, a fleeting and minute note placed before a regular note. These notes are sprinkled liberally through the story, like raisins through the challah, to surprise, divert and charm us as we wait for the story to progress. These little vignettes speak to Kaminsky’s great powers of observation (and the note book that she, as a doctor in Haifa herself, apparently took with her at all times).
At one point in the story, Dina rushes to the shoemaker in the old Arab shuk to repair a heel which, on this of all days, has broken off. While bomb alarms and evacuations proceed outside, the old shoemaker continues patiently with his task. Kaminsky paints for us such an evocative picture that we feel we are standing there beside her in the old marketplace. “Boxes of nails and shoelaces, a pair of worn-out satin ladies shoes, a blue leather baby’s boot, a blurred black-and-white photo of a young girl with curls swept back from her forehead, a twenty-year-old Haifa telephone book, a clock with hands frozen at twelve o’clock.”
A review of Richard Flanagan’s Booker-proze winning “Narrow Road to the Deep North” says “Despite the novel’s epic sprawl it retains the delicate vignettes that characterise Flanagan’s work, those beautiful brush strokes of poignancy and veracity that remain in the reader’s mind long afterwards.” Kaminsky shows exactly this same touch, which makes “The Waiting Room” not only an outstanding work but a pure delight to read. She has written that this book took her more than ten years to produce. I hope we don’t have to wait as long for her next.
Dina is a family doctor living in contemporary Israel with her husband and young son. Haifa is a world away from the Melbourne suburbs where Dina grew up, the only daughter of holocaust survivors. Eight months pregnant with her second child, Dina is exhausted and increasingly anxious. Her marriage is strained, she is tired of her patients needs, and she is terrified by an escalated terrorist threat in the city.
As Dina struggles to simply get through a single day, overwhelmed by traffic, a broken heel, demanding patients, and a promise to procure apples for her son, her behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. She finds no comfort in the casual assurances of her husband, nor the ghostly opinion of her long dead mother, who berates, cajoles and nags her daughter for her failings.
The sentiment of The Waiting Room is haunting and moving, relieved only by a rare glimpse of dark humour. The prose and dialogue is sharp and articulate. The pace builds until Dina's day reaches an explosive conclusion.
The Waiting Room is a short but powerful novel about survival, terror, love and death.
Top reviews from other countries
> I loved every minute. It felt like we were having an intense conversation and I was accompanying you on an incredible journey.
> There are parts of the book that I found so extraordinary they took my breath away. It is such a compelling story - important and relevant. I so related to having conversations with a dead mother.