> Skip to content

Winner of the Voss literary prize. 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.


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

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    September 1, 2015

    Vintage Australia

    304 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 1, 2015

    RHA eBooks Adult

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Leah Kaminsky

Cracking the Code
The Pen and the Stethoscope


Crimes of the Father
Into the Water
Best Laid Plans
Night School
The Woolgrower's Companion
The Traitorâ??s Girl
After You
Lake Hill
The Light Between Oceans
Congo Dawn
The Handmaid's Tale
Anything Is Possible
Men Without Women
The Good Mother
The French Perfumer
The Mistress
The Course Of Love
Seven Types of Ambiguity