The Waiting Room

8 ratings 5 stars

Compelling, moving and memorable. Graeme Simsion.
The Waiting Room captures the sights, sounds, accents and animosities of a country overflowing with stories.

Book Setting: Haifa, Israel
The Waiting Room, Leah Kaminsky

Compelling, moving and memorable. Graeme Simsion.

The Waiting Room captures the sights, sounds, accents and animosities of a country overflowing with stories.

Dina is a family doctor living in the melting-pot city of Haifa, Israel. Born in Australia in a Jewish enclave of Melbourne to Holocaust survivors, Dina left behind a childhood marred by misery and the tragedies of the past to build a new life for herself in the Promised Land.

After starting a family of her own, she finds her life falling apart beneath the demands of her eccentric patients, a marriage starting to fray, the ever-present threat of terrorist attack and the ghost of her mother, haunting her with memories that Dina would prefer to leave on the other side of the world.

Leah Kaminsky plumbs the depths of her characters' memories, both the sweet and the heart-wrenching, reaching back in a single climactic day through six decades and across three continents to uncover a truth that could save Dina's sanity – and her life.

Available Formats

  • Trade Paperback
    $32.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780857986221
    Published: 01/09/2015
    Imprint: Vintage Australia
    Extent: 304 pages
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9780857986238
    Published: 01/09/2015
    Imprint: RHA eBooks Adult
    Extent: 304 pages
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"Leah Kaminsky's debut novel, The Waiting Room is nail-biting, but not in a whodunnit way; in the way of an eight-month pregnant protagonist holding her breath against the dual assault of Israeli terrorism and Holocaust memories. Not for the faint-hearted, but with a surprising surfeit of grace notes." - Clare Wright, The Sydney Morning Herald

"The Waiting Room deftly draws together and personalises the legacy of the Holocaust and the present-day threat to Israel. It is an assured debut with a complex, believable and engaging protagonist. Finely-observed characters and vignettes give us a human perspective on a culture that is too often portrayed only in political terms. Compelling, moving and memorable.

The Waiting Room took me to Israel in the way The Kite Runner took me to Afghanistan, and shone a light on the generational impact of the Holocaust." - Graeme Simsion

"Dina, the child of Holocaust survivors, struggles herself to survive the burden of memory and misery that has infused her Melbourne childhood. Far from home, working as a doctor in Haifa and married to a stoic Israeli, she must find a way to quiet her ghosts before their dark voices further dim her own chance at happiness. At a time when the survivors' generation is rapidly diminishing, this novel reminds us that suffering on such a scale has a potent half-life. The Waiting Room is both haunted, and haunting." - Geraldine Brooks

"Leah Kaminsky knows the stress of a doctor's life: she is one.

This is why her debut novel about a pregnant Israeli GP has such an authentic flavour. We're right there with her as she rushes about her duties, haunted by her persistently present but dead mother and living on high alert, ever vigilant for the next terrorist attack.

The Waiting Room convincingly conveys all the intensity of Israeli everyday life." - Caroline Baum, Booktopia Buzz

"Kaminsky is our Virgil, guiding us – sometimes playfully – through the circles of hell.
It may be intense, but we are entertained along the way. Here is humanity, in all its minutiae, in all its terrifying grandness, banality and brutality. Meanwhile, the immediate situation is utterly compelling. You know the day is going to end badly but you don’t how or when or where or for whom. You’re driven forward, to find out." - Tracy Sorensen, Newtown Review of Books

"The Waiting Room exudes white-hot urgency" - Zelda Cawthorne, The Australian Jewish News

"Kaminsky's book is set in 2001, and things have only grown more polarised since then, and attitudes hardened. In that it paints a sympathetic picture of a compassionate Australian-Israeli haunted by ghosts of the Holocaust, some would condemn it as apologist. Others will find it confronting at other levels. Dina has, in the end, to choose between Melbourne and Haifa. Which is more ferocious, love or terror? Is it better, for her, to be a 'galutnik' or in the thick of things? Kaminsky's book throws up some tough questions." - Anne Susskind, The Sydney Morning Herald

"Written with emotional insight, poetic nuance and fascinating cultural knowledge, The Waiting Room is original, affecting and a compulsive read. It is at times pacy, with its anticipation of horror, and at other times ponderous, with its generations of guilt and pain. At all times it is impossible to put down. Kaminsky’s great skill in writing this story is her ability to draw the reader into the foreign, haunted and terrorised landscape of Dina’s inner turmoil and daily life, both in Melbourne and Haifa.

The Waiting Room is a debut novel of the highest order by an inventive and accomplished writer." - Lynette Washington, The Clothesline

"Deft, poetic and insightful, Kaminsky’s The Waiting Room is an important and moving meditation on choice and generational trauma." - Leslie Cannold

"An important book, and superbly well-written. In The Waiting Room, debut novelist Leah Kaminsky has captured fear, guilt and unresolved anguish in a novel that will wring your heart." - Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers Blog

Leah Kaminsky

Leah Kaminsky

Leah Kaminsky, an award-winning physician and writer, is Poetry & Fiction Editor at the Medical Journal of Australia. The Waiting Room is her debut novel. It was shortlisted in the Faulkner-Wisdom Novel Writing Competition. She conceived and edited Writer MD, a collection of prominent physician-writers, which starred on Booklist and is co-author of Cracking the Code, with the Damiani family. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.