2005 NOVELLA PRIZE SELECTED BY ERIC GOODMAN
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The Waiting Room is a compact tale of alienation, abandonment, love and transgression. Its protagonist, a street performer and self-employed translator, spends long hours as a living statue. He is emotionally shut down when we meet him and conducts his social life in disguise, cruising bars in the uniforms of policemen, priests and sailors. His most intimate human contact is with Sayama, a brilliant Japanese translator he has never met, but with whom he is having a multilingual, cyber-sexual affair.
Into this scenario steps Marie, a street-wise teenager who picks him up at a bar. When she refuses to vacate his apartment, the lines between victim and perpetrator, and sex and love become blurred.
The Waiting Room is not simply a narrative, as in a story told, but a work that attempts to depict the fragile state of reality through the style and tonality of the writing itself. A stray schnauzer on a mission, an over-the-phone chess match, and a persistent caller desperately trying to reconnect with “Marvin,” are among the seemingly discordant elements against which the action plays out. Albert Sgambati’s prose is sharp, funny and very much of the moment, and his characters are unique and sympathetically drawn. Miami University Press is proud to publish a new writer of great power and originality. The Waiting Room will stay with readers long after the reading and the waiting is over.
About the Author
Albert Sgambati is a native of New York City. He divides time between the U.S. and Latin America, where he freelances as a film consultant, features writer, translator and editor. During the 1990s, he worked as a beat reporter for The News, in Mexico City. His writing has appeared in a range of magazines. His poetry has been included in Anthology of American Poets 1980’s, Big Scream, and is featured in All Roads…But This One, a limited edition from Luddite Kingdom Press, San Francisco (2006). The Waiting Room is his first book.