Waiting for Columbus


Author: Thomas Trofimuk

Published: 2009

Genre: Fiction

About: A man is brought to the Sevilla Institute for the Mentally Ill in Spain, claiming to be Christopher Columbus.

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Review of Waiting for Columbus

A distraught man is brought to the Sevilla Institute for the Mentally Ill in Spain. When he calms down, he informs them that he is Christopher Columbus. While the staff try to determine who he really is and what is going on, the man develops a bond with Consuela, a nurse, and insists on telling her the story of how he, as Columbus, got the ships that he used to discover the New World.

He clears his throat. Swallows. "It's time, Nurse Consuela, that I told you about how I got my ships. It wasn't easy, you know. I want to tell you the one true and only, emphatically accurate, and undeniably authentic story of how Christopher Columbus" — he smiles a little boy's smile, innocent and playful — "that's me, got his ships and set to sea."

She has no idea about the true identity of this man. But what if we are what we believe ourselves to be? Consuela has no doubt about his belief that he is, in fact, Christopher Columbus. That's the easy part.

...from page 19

Meanwhile, an Interpol agent with a tortured past is tracking the same man across Europe.

Columbus, as he is called for most of the book, was a fascinating character: intelligent, educated, and mysterious, with a penchant for wandering around naked. The Columbus in his stories was equally fascinating: a navigator who was hopelessly lost while on land and who seemed to have the ability to make nearly every woman fall in love with him.

The other main characters often seemed more fragile than Columbus himself. Consuela, the nurse, was divorced, not very happy, and enjoyed her wine perhaps a bit too much. Emile, the Interpol agent, was also divorced, not very happy, and trying to deal with the consequences of an event in his past.

The stories Columbus told to Consuela incorporated factual (and nearly factual) details from the real Columbus's life, while seamlessly weaving in anachronisms, like telephones, televisions, and Secret Service agents.

As the revelation of what caused the man's break from reality drew closer, I found myself turning pages faster and faster, while at the same time being almost afraid to find out, for both his sake and mine.

At one point, Consuela thought to herself that Columbus's story was "a crazy, mish-mashed, time-crossed slip down a rabbit hole." I can think of no better way to describe the entire book.

I enjoyed Waiting for Columbus. It was a book to be not just read, but experienced.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 28 May 2010 from the hardcover edition.

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More Reviews

Luanne, A Bookworm's World, 2 October 2009
“A unconventional, multi tiered tale of love, loss and redemption that will grab you and not let you go until the final pages.”
Wandering Coyote, The Bookworm Collective, 28 October 2009
“This is an amazing story replete with humour, pathos, exquisite detail, and emotion. Read it!”
Heather, Tales of a Capricious Reader, 4 January 2010
“This book is sad, yes, but it is so beautiful.”
Richard's SF Ramblings, 8 February 2010
“One of the ten best ever!”
Jeanne, Necromancy Never Pays, 9 March 2010
“Columbus is a seductive character”
Gavin, Page247, 22 July 2010
“I was hooked from the first paragraph.”


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Added 30 May 2010.
Updated 05 September 2013.