Waiting has been shortlisted for Australia's most prestigious literary award, the 2017 Miles Franklin Award for Literature.
Waiting is a story of two odd couples in prose as marvellously idiosyncratic as its characters. Big is a hefty cross-dresser and Little is little. Both are long used to the routines of boarding house life in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, but Little, with the prospect of an inheritance, is beginning to indulge in the great Australian dream, which has Big worried. Little’s cousin, Angus, is a solitary man who designs lake-scapes for city councils, and strangely constructed fireproof houses for the bushfire zone. A handy man, he meets Jasmin an academic who races in her ideas as much as in her runners. Her head is set on publishing books on semiotics and her heart is turned towards her stalled personal life. All four are waiting, for something if not someone.
Antoni Jach has called Waiting “a bittersweet tale of the marginalised and the searching.” and that it is “Weirdly moving, tender and insightful”, while John Clarke has praised Salom as “a wonderful storyteller”. Sue Woolfe says Waiting contains: “flashes of poetry and sudden insight and such profound compassion (it) should be labelled – WARNING: Could make the reader kinder”.
“It is undoubtedly the work of a poet; he works his sentences hard. Every paragraph is chockers with flamboyant and often witty insights into the tedium of earthly existence. There are a lot of laughs. But the book needs to be taken slowly. Waiting is jovial, but it is also a workout. Salom never allows the reader to skate over the surface. He dictates the considered pace at which you will move through this celebration of lives whose small details elevate them to a kind of dignity well beyond the dross that, in other hands, would make them ephemeral.”
MICHAEL MCGIRR, Australian Book Review
“In his brilliant and unsettling novel Waiting, Philip Salom has unleashed Australia’s oddest literary couple since the elderly twin brothers Arthur and Waldo Brown in Patrick White’s The Solid Mandala (1966).”
PETER PIERCE, The Australian
“I can forgive almost anything in a novel when the ending is just right: pitched perfectly, timed flawlessly, and with a finely tuned balance between completion and a sense of more to come.
Waiting has such an ending. As soon as I reached the last page, I forgot the times when my patience was tried getting there. But with a title such as Waiting what else should you expect? This is a novel that illuminates a state most of us are in most of the time: suspended before some mythical “next stage” begins, while life carries on around us in all its tedium. It reminded me of Jim Jarmusch’s films – there’s often a hell of a lot of waiting around before you reach the end, and then the perfection of the conclusion makes sense of all that preceded it.”
The Saturday Paper