In conversation with Victoria Sweet
Leah Kaminsky’s powerful fiction debut—a multi-generational novel perfect for fans of The Tiger’s Wife and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena—unfolds over a day in the life of a young physician in contemporary Israel, who must cope with modern threats in the shadow of her parents’ horrific wartime pasts.
A young doctor in Haifa, Israel, must come to terms with her family’s painful past—and its lingering aftermath—as the conflict between Palestine and Israel reaches its height and the threat of a terrorist attack looms over the city....
Born to two survivors in the smoky after-haze of WWII, Dina has never been able to escape her parents’ history. Tortured by memories of Bergen-Belsen, her mother leaves Dina to inherit her decades of trauma.
Dina desperately anchors herself in family—a cherished young son, a world-weary husband, and a daughter on the way—and her work as a doctor, but she is struggling to cope, burdened by both the very real anxieties of her daily life and also the shadows of her parents’ ghosts, who follow her wherever she goes. A witty, sensitive narrator, she fights to stay grounded in the here-and-now, even as the challenges of motherhood and medicine threaten to overwhelm her.
In taut, compelling prose, The Waiting Room weaves between Dina’s exterior and interior lives, straddling the present and the past—and building towards a profoundly dramatic climax that will remind readers of the fragility of human life even as it reassures them of the inescapable power of love and family.
Leah Kaminsky is Poetry & Fiction Editor at the Medical Journal of Australia. She conceived and edited Writer, M.D. (Vintage, 2012), an anthology of contemporary doctor-writers. She is the author of We’re all Going to Die (Harper Collins Australia, 2016), the award-winning poetry collection, Stitching Things Together (Interactive Press, 2010) and collaborated on the bestselling Cracking the Code (Random House Australia, 2015). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Dr. Victoria Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in medical history. For twenty years she practiced medicine at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco. In her first book, God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine (Riverhead, 2012), she laid out her evidence—in stories of her patients and her hospital—for some radically new ideas about medicine and healthcare. She was a Guggenheim Fellow for 2014-2015 and is currently working on her next book, Slow Medicine: Finding the Way to Healing in an Age of Technology.
-The Waiting Room is both haunted, and haunting.---Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March
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