Post Script: The Waiting Room – Leah Kaminsky

Compelling, moving and societally relevant.

 Cover The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room

Leah Kaminsky

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Vintage Australia

ISBN: 9780857986221

 

Description:

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.

 

My View:

Compelling, moving and societally relevant.

Dina wasn’t there to see the ashes when the war ended, but she was born into a smoky after haze. She had never known war, but its tendrils gripped her from a young age, as she tried to make up for everyone her mother had lost. She had to be a good girl: fill her mother’s sadness with love.” In this instance Leah Kaminsky is specifically discussing the legacy of the Holocaust and the effects on the Jewish survivors, and in particular Survivors Guilt; she could however be talking about any people living in crisis, living with conflict, living in refugee camps, living with war or the survivors of war, in any region of our modern world. The effects of war and conflict are far reaching and disturbing, and time does little to ease the pain and burden of such actions.

 

Beautifully written, poignant, lyrical; “‘the dead were the lucky ones, you know.’ Her mother smoothes a few strands of hair back from her forehead. ‘After we were liberated, there was silence for a while.’ Dina imagines a soft sighing seeping up from the earth, melting into windless air. The murmuring of the dead. Their voices becoming a steady whisper that followed her mother everywhere.” Such sadness is articulately conveyed.

 

This narrative is intelligently written, haunting, evocative, explosive …unforgettable. There are lessons for us all to learn, for our politicians to hear and to note.

 

Post Script: Days in the History of Silence – Merethe Lindstrom

Days in the History of Silence

Description:

From the acclaimed Nordic Council Literature Prize winner, a story that reveals the devastating effects of mistaking silence for peace and feeling shame for inevitable circumstances
 
Eva and Simon have spent most of their adult lives together. He is a physician and she is a teacher, and they have three grown daughters and a comfortable home. Yet what binds them together isn’t only affection and solidarity but also the painful facts of their respective histories, which they keep hidden even from their own children. But after the abrupt dismissal of their housekeeper and Simon’s increasing withdrawal into himself, the past can no longer be repressed.

Lindstrøm has crafted a masterpiece about the grave mistakes we make when we misjudge the legacy of war, common prejudices, and our own strategies of survival.

My View:

A quiet and disturbing story of secrets, of words not spoken, and pasts not mentioned; a story about an adoption, the Holocaust, Survivors Guilt and dementia. A very unusual mix of subjects discussed in a quiet and unassuming manner. I am not quite sure how I feel about this book…it certainly was an interesting read, delving into the pasts of an aging couple, unlocking their secrets, I felt a bit like a voyeur privy to their intimate secrets.

I did not understand why they kept such secrets from their adult children… it would have made their relationships so much easier to have spoken of the past, though I do admit that some subjects are more difficult than others to discuss openly and maybe that is the point of this book; to make us aware that these things do need to be spoken about. Maybe this is a story about forgiveness…if we can’t forgive ourselves for our past actions then we cannot share our selves fully with those we love.  Shame and guilt are destructive. Maybe this is also a story about ethnicity … how some reactions/prejudices have not changed with time. That is a very sad point to acknowledge.

I felt the book finished abruptly. Maybe I just wanted more? My feelings about this book are ambiguous