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Waiting for Columbus Hardcover – August 25, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Andrew Davidson Reviews Waiting for Columbus

Andrew Davidson’s debut novel, The Gargoyle, was published in August 2008. It was one of Amazon.com’s “Best Books of 2008” and was Amazon.co.uk’s “Rising Star” for Autumn 2008. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, The Gargoyle is being translated into twenty-nine languages. Read Davidson's exclusive Amazon guest review of Waiting for Columbus:

I hate Thomas Trofimuk.

I’m sure this sounds a tad extreme, especially since I’ve never met the man. Mr. Trofimuk could very well be a perfectly charming individual--kind to animals and small children--but I don’t care. I hate him in the small-hearted way that only writers (and perhaps actors) hate another: with a mixture of jealousy and miserable respect, hidden behind giant fake smiles. For the record, I should clarify that I don’t hate all writers, only those who produce books like Waiting for Columbus, which is exactly the worst kind of novel: fantastic, and written by someone other than me.

There are three reasons, specifically, that Columbus causes pain in my soul. First, because I wish I’d written it. Second, because I fear that Trofimuk has stolen all the good words. Third, because he tricked me. You see, normally I dissect novels rather than actually read them; I pull out the story’s entrails and comb through them inch-by-intestinal-inch, because anything I learn, I can steal. But Trofimuk made me forget my larcenous ways, and forced me to rush headlong through his story, reading it simply for pleasure. I’m a writer, goddamn it; I don’t do anything 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

From Publishers Weekly

Canadian writer Trofimuk's uneven novel begins with an inspired premise: a man claiming to be Christopher Columbus shows up at an insane asylum in contemporary Spain. Under the care of a nurse named Consuela, he begins to tell stories of Columbus's adventures, remembering some and reliving others. It is interesting enough at first, but the blending of then and now gets tiresome and hokey (as when, after strenuous intercourse, Columbus watches TV). Also, Columbus is a voracious lover who speaks in purple prose about how much he loves women. The women, real and imagined, likewise find him irresistible. (Indeed, even Consuela falls hard for Columbus.) Meanwhile, Interpol declares the mystery man officially suspicious and dispatches an agent specializing in cold trails to track him down. Trofimuk never quite pulls together a cohesive narrative; the imaginings of a mentally unwell man hold some promise, but too many developments are murky and inexplicable. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,471,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It was often poetic and sometimes beautifully written, but unfortunately as a novel, his characters were strangely uncompelling. Other than to read a nurse's description of Columbus as "hot", it was difficult to understand what his attraction was for any of the women he encountered. Particularly difficult to believe was how the central theme of an emotional relationship between an experienced psychiatric nurse and a psychotic, violent delusional patient developed. The patchwork of stories gave the odd sensation of wobbling back and forth through time without any forward momentum. Interestingly enough, with careful casting and a good director, it would make a better movie than a novel.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I sent in for this book, I was intrigued by the premise of the mysterious man washing up on the shores of Spain after swimming/floating in the Strait of Gibraltar thinking he's Christopher Columbus. Columbus is then admitted to a local mental institution in Seville, Spain and no one quite knows just how in the world he ended in the middle of the ocean or why he has this entrenched belief that he is in fact Christopher Columbus from over 500 years ago. A dark and mysterious set of events is implied as the cause of this seemingly normal man creating this fictitious personality/cover up as a coping device. Just what is it though? It is the job of Nurse Consuela, an employee of the Seville Mental Institution to listen to Columbus' recounting of his journey to discover the New World and the perils he faced on the way there.

Some additional clues are also provided that Columbus is not your standard run-of-the-mill mental patient either as the International Police (Interpol) are looking for a man that has been missing for months after a horrifying event took place in Spain just months prior to his disappearance and disconnect with reality. Could it be the same man?

That's the essential plot of Waiting for Columbus, but on a personal level it went much deeper. There is so much loss and sorrow in Columbus and by the end of the novel, the reader finds out just who Columbus really is and what caused him to become Columbus. It's also a story of great inspiration as Columbus through all the sorrow and pain he has experienced ends up finding out that life is indeed worth living and goes through hell and back to really figure that out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would give this novel 4 and a half stars if I new how to do it. Interesting tale of intrigue I was never sure if Christopher was the villain or the hero. The Interpol man hunting for him was also an intriguing side story. For the last third of this story I couldn't put it down. Nice to read such a well written work.
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Format: Paperback
I was surprised by this book - just a random pickup at the library. There are times where the protagonist goes into story telling mode or into dream sequences and I sometimes found it difficult to follow where he is in time or in mind. This may have been intentional on the author's part to help the reader understand what it is like to be this man. He is after all a man in an insane asylum who thinks he's Christopher Columbus. But once I got the rhythm of how this works I was less confused by it and the richness of the story drew me in ... I couldn't put it down. I loved it. I am going to buy it for my own little library to share with friends, and at some point read it again.
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By Lealea on February 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A friend put me on to this book and its not normally the sort of thing that i would read.
I thought it was great, a challenging read, yes but so worth it.
Well written, complex and in places so very sad....
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Format: Kindle Edition
Once in a while you are completely surprised by a book. That was my case when a friend gave me a copy. If you have read the other reviews you have a basic idea of the story. I will speak then about how utterly mystified I was from the first page, as I tried to decipher each page, clue and gesture of the book, slowly understanding more and more, and really enjoying myself in the process. I also learned much about who Columbus was , and who he became to make his epic journey. I also learned a lot about what the main character's madness was about and the places that kept the mentally ill in the not too distant past.

If reading my review you have rung any bells, then I would recommend this title to you. It was such a remarkable book it will stand out against any thing else you would think to compare it to. It will be difficult at times to read, but I highly recommend you read it to the end. It will be well worth it.
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Format: MP3 CD
Waiting for Columbus is a well thought out and beautifully written novel. It is almost as if there are three separate stories at work here. Thomas Trofimuk weaves the three threads together like a fine silk scarf as the novel progresses toward what proves to be a shattering conclusion.

A man is pulled from the water and taken to a mental hospital in Seville, Spain. He believes he is Christopher Columbus. Over a period of several weeks, Christopher entrances his nurse, Consuela, with stories of how he planned his voyage across the western sea, and how he convinced Ferdinand and Isabella to finance him. His stories are very in-depth and very convincing, except for the fact that they contain such elements as televisions, telephones, Mozart, and Heineken beer. Christopher is seemingly unaware of the inconsistencies in his tales. Thomas Trofimuk ingeniously makes Christopher's stories take on increasingly modern tones throughout the narrative. Queen Isabella's personal guards, for instance, begin to resemble secret service agents with ear pieces and handguns. You can actually feel the past catching up with poor Christopher, no matter how he tries to evade it.

The second thread is the real Columbus, as we see him through the stories of Christopher. I'm not an expert on the life of Columbus so I can't really say how factual the stories are, but they are intriguing and you can sense that Waiting for Columbus will reach it's climax when Columbus finally sets sail.

On top of all that, we have Emil, an agent of Interpol, who is tracking down a missing person. Of course it's not hard to see that Christopher is the man he is tracking.
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