Hsu Ming-Chang followed his wife to Germany and now she’s left him, so here he sits, waiting to get a piece of paper that will allow him to stay. They met in college, she was popular and charismatic, he quiet and always buried in books. No one else understood their relationship, but he let things slide, didn’t notice that things were changing, until one day she just said she was leaving. Now he waits to hand his documents to Ms Meyer, who will decide if he can stay.
To Ms Meyer, who has worked for twenty years in this office, checking documents and verifying information, these people are not people. They are files. She is weary from the endless stream of weary faces which greet her day after weary day. Ming-Chang’s landlady, Mrs Nesmeyanova, has come to Berlin from Belarus. Mr Nesmeyanova wants Berlin to be their home, wants his wife to learn German. But she can’t feel at home in her new home. Turkish-German artist Christine creates ‘Aufzeichnungen’ (notes, documents, files), life into paper.
Tsou’s novel plays with repetition, banality and waiting, recalling the classics of existentialism such as Patrick Suesskind’s THE PIGEON or Albert Camus’ L’ÉTRANGER. Economical, clean and gentle, THE WAITING ROOM recalls the gestural simplicity and power of a Chinese ink painting, being Chinese more in mood rather than content.