Waiting For Columbus by Thomas TrofimukWaiting For Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk

Waiting For Columbus

byThomas Trofimuk

Paperback | August 24, 2010

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Highly acclaimed Canadian novelist Thomas Trofimuk bursts onto the international literary stage with this dazzling novel, rich with all the emotional intensity of The English Patient.

In a Spanish mental institution in 2004, a man who believes he is Christopher Columbus begins to tell his story. Nurse Consuela listens, hoping to discover what tragedy drove this educated, cultured man to retreat from reality. This Columbus is not heroic: he falls in love with every woman he meets, and, on land, he has absolutely no sense of direction. More troublingly, he is convinced a terrible tragedy is coming. Yet with each tale, Consuela draws closer to this lost navigator.

Waiting for Columbus is richly imagined, cinematic, and often playful; a novel about truth, loss, love, and hope by a writer at the height of his powers.


From the Hardcover edition.
Thomas Trofimuk’s first novel, The 52nd Poem, won several awards, and his second, Doubting Yourself to the Bone, was a #1 bestseller (Edmonton Journal) and a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2006. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and daughter.From the Hardcover edition.
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Title:Waiting For ColumbusFormat:PaperbackDimensions:408 pages, 9.01 × 5.2 × 0.77 inPublished:August 24, 2010Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0771085478

ISBN - 13:9780771085475

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Waiting for Columbus I liked the character of Columbus but this felt quite slow and meandering at times. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-07-11

Read from the Book

When Bolivar opens his eyes two days later, he is calm and seems rational. He’s restrained in the bed and there is still one policeman outside in the hallway — just in case. The guard sits straight in a wooden chair to the left of the door. He checks the identification badges of everyone who enters, makes a note on his clipboard. This is Consuela’s fifth time in, and the guard barely looks at her.“¿Qué día es éste? Por favor.” The new patient stares at Consuela. His voice is demanding, almost commanding. It’s a voice that is perhaps used to giving orders. His head is lifted and he’s trying to see what it is that’s keeping him down in the bed.“Qué?”“¿Qué día es éste? What day is it?”“It is Sunday,” Consuela says.“Sunday? What date?” He pulls at his wrist restraints, still checking.“Sunday, the fourth day of April.”“April? You mean August. Where am I?” He flexes against the ankle restraints.“Sevilla.”“How did I get here? What happened to me?”“You were brought here —” She stops.What exactly can she tell him? She’s not sure.“I was in Palos. It all went sideways. There were two girls. Are they all right? Everything went horribly wrong…” But his voice trails off as if he is slowly finding the answers to his own questions.“I was in Palos. I remember broken glass. People shouting. The ships were in the harbour.” He stops. He looks at her with such expectant eyes. “And?” he says. “And?”What did this man want? And what? What is he looking for? What was he expecting to hear? Consuela shrugs and looks at him hopefully, looking for help.“Why am I tied to this bed? I’m perfectly fine. My ships, though. Have they … have they sailed?” He’s irritated. Yanks at the wrist ties.“Ships?” She’s thinking she should probably not say any more. There ought to be doctors here. The psychologists at this asylum are some of the best in the world. In the institution’s lengthy history, they’d had people from all over Europe as patients — even a couple of kings and a few wayward princesses had called this place home for brief periods of time. It had been one of the first asylums in the world to actually attempt to help the mentally ill — to get at the root cause of an illness.When it first opened, so-called treatments in other parts of Europe were still muddled in the casting out of devils or burning people or drowning them as witches — remarkably final and fatal cures — while the Sevilla Institute was actually caring for the mentally ill. This place, this hospital of innocents, has been a relatively safe haven for many, many years.“I’ll get a doctor,” Consuela says, turning.“Wait.”She stops.“Get me a phone,” he snaps. “I want to make a call.”“Pardon?”“A phone damnit. Look, I am Columbus. Christopher Columbus. I know the queen, the queen and the king. They can vouch for me. I am to lead three ships across theWestern Sea. We’ve got a deal, damnit! Just get them on the phone.”Whoa, she thinks. Consuela can hear the earnest certainty of his voice. He believes what he’s saying. “You want to fall off the edge of the Earth?” Consuela is performing her own little experiment. “You want to die?”“You don’t believe that. Nobody but a simpleton would believe that old wives’ tale. Try not to underestimate my intelligence and I’ll do the same for you.”“I’ll let Dr. Fuentes know you’re awake.”“Yes, let your doctor know that I’m hungry, and I have to piss, and I’m not crazy.”She shuts the door — the click echoes in the stone hallway. Consuela walks past the admitting desk and around the corner to Dr. Fuentes’s office. She knocks on his door. Waits. Knocks again.The door squeaks open, slowly. “Yes. What is it?” He says this with the bearing of someone who has been doing something frustrating and this intrusion is the icing on the annoyance cake. Dr. Fuentes is a tall, clean-shaven man who is a fastidious bureaucrat. He’s just been appointed chief of staff at the institute. Consuela is honestly uncertain about his skills as a doctor.He holds the door open with one hand and fumbles with his labcoat buttons with the other. The sound of a chair scraping on a tiled floor comes from inside the office.“Patient 9214 is awake.” Consuela decides she does not want to know who else is in there. Damnit! She hates stuff like this — office politics. Knowing the human contents of Dr. Fuentes’s office would put her in the middle of something. There was no scraping sound, she tells herself. It was nothing. There was no scraping.“Thank you.” The doctor releases the door but catches it immediately. “Wait. Is he still sedated?” She nods. Fair enough. There was no way to know for sure if this new patient was going to explode again or if he was done.From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

1. Which character is your favourite and why?2. Could you guess the ending? At what point did you figure out the mystery?3. Is Columbus’ madness justified? Do you think Dissociative Identity Disorder is a legitimate coping strategy?4. Waiting for Columbus is set in the 21st and 15th centuries. Why did artifacts from the 21st century start to appear in the 15th century?5. Who is waiting for Columbus?6. Do you think Emile and Consuela get together and live happily ever after? Could you imagine that happening?

Editorial Reviews

#1 Edmonton Journal Bestseller An Amazon.ca Best Book of 2009 "What a wonderful, mad mongrel of a book — part mystery, part passionate romance, part postmodern historical romp in the spirit of Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers and Douglas Glover's Elle…. The hero of Thomas Trofimuk's Waiting for Columbus is, like all storytellers, a seducer — and so is the author himself. His compassion, intelligence, shrewd humor, and taste in wine make for an irresistible read."— Steven Heighton, author of Afterlands"Waiting for Columbus is a riveting meditation on identity, loss, and the fragility of our own life stories. Thomas Trofimuk shows us that when it comes to love, we are all Columbus, setting sail on unknown waters, hoping we won't come to an edge."— Carolyn Parkhurst, bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found"Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk is a compelling read, a tale very well told. The idea that a mental patient convinced he is Christopher Columbus is so persuasive in the role that he has others convinced in is a masterstroke. Trofimuk's story is imaginative and realistic, fueled by an epic mystery, and the ending surprise is both shocking and deeply moving.  From beginning to end here, we are in the hands of a gifted storyteller."— Selden Edwards, author of The Little Book"[Trofimuk] forced me to rush headlong through his story, reading it simply for pleasure…. If you give him the chance, prospective reader, Trofimuk will use his sorcery on you, too. He'll steal precious hours from your life, which could be used for riding horses or volunteering for charity. He'll make you ignore your family, and possibly even forget to feed your children. Worst of all, he'll set you up with all these little details that you think are simply nice touches in the story, but are actually landmines planted in your subconscious, waiting to explode with pathos and beauty when you least expect it. So go ahead. Let Trofimuk steal your time and explode your head. Just don't say I didn't warn you."— Andrew Davidson, author of The Gargoyle"The Columbus that Trofimuk creates is both fascinating and intensely likeable…. There is real tension and suspense that builds as the novel progresses…. An impressive work, masterfully blending the history of Columbus with a real-world mystery."— Macleans.ca "Captivating….Waiting for Columbus is a mash-up of novelistic structures and influences. D.M. Thomas's masterpiece The White Hotel, with its puzzling and heart-rending symbology, comes immediately to mind…. A.S. Byatt's Possession, a hybrid of contemporary and historical fiction, also comes to mind….And like those works, it is one of those rare gems that works on a number of levels and makes ingenious use of eras shadowed by anxiety, uncertainty and tectonic, historic change — times like ours. Thomas Trofimuk's novel throws you for a loop, pulls you back, twists you around and opens your eyes to the world not just as it was, but as we find it."— The Globe and Mail "Powerful….A delicate but heady novel which will enthrall and captivate….The emotional impact of the novel's conclusion is devastating. Waiting for Columbus is a bravura performance."— Edmonton Journal "[Waiting for Columbus] should add to [Thomas Trofimuk's] reputation as an engaging storyteller, thanks to its fully developed characters and engaging plot….Though many writers try weaving several stories together to advance one master narrative through different protagonists, this is not easily accomplished. Trofimuk makes it look easy."— Winnipeg Free Press "A rich book, positive in its view of humanity…about love in its many forms and ultimately about the power of love to restore life and meaning….The detail and descriptions, the scent of vanilla lingering on women's skins and burnished light embroidering the Spanish setting, provide a sensual atmosphere for love and lust, to flourish and nourish [with] delightfully deep, layered, and mature writing….Stunningly lovely and deeply moving, difficult to put down and most welcoming to pick up….Intoxicating….gripping and contemporary….Unforgettable."— The Owen-Sound Sun Times "Inventive, charming….[A] multifaceted story that never loses its vitality. [Trofimuk's] literary gifts allow him to portray each character with depth, while at the same time creating a rising sense of suspense at the possibility of uncovering Columbus' true identity."— Bookpage (US)"A story of sorrow and loss that packs a huge emotional punch." — The Times (UK)"A tale told with gorgeous, often quirky detail. . . . Daring and remarkable. . . . Grace notes of longing, of yearning, are frequent, and lovely. So are the questions that compel them. . . . [Trofimuk is] a novelist of considerable talents." — Charles Foran, in the Literary Review of CanadaFrom the Hardcover edition.