Thursday, September 9, 2010
Following the Booker: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
There is a moment when any real journey begins. Sometimes it happens as you leave your house, sometimes it’s a long way from home…
A young man makes three journeys that take him through Greece, India and Africa. He travels lightly, simply. To those who travel with him and those whom he meets on the way - including a handsome, enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers and a woman on the edge - he is the Follower, the Lover and the Guardian. Yet, despite the man’s best intentions, each journey ends in disaster. Together, these three journeys will change his life.
A novel of longing and thwarted desire, rage and compassion, In a Strange Room is the hauntingly beautiful evocation of one man’s search for love and for a place to call home.
Damon Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He wrote his first novel, A Sinless Season, when he was seventeen. His other books include Small Circle of Beings, The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs, The Quarry, The Good Doctor and The Impostor. The Good Doctor, published in 2003, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Dublin/IMPAC Award and was published in eighteen countries. Damon Galgut lives in Cape Town.
***** (Average rating: 4 stars)
"I doubt if any book in 2010 will contain more memorable evocations of place than In a Strange Room... Humour is not Galgut's strong point, not even black humour, and there is a kind of nihilism to the book's philosophy ... Oddly enough, though, In A Strange Room has left me with a soothing sense of serenity. It is a very beautiful book for one thing, strikingly conceived and hauntingly written, a writer's novel par excellence without a clumsy word in it. But perhaps even more important, constantly through the sadnesses and the pathos, the disappointments and the disillusionments, kindness shines." - Jan Morris, The Guardian
"Superb… Galgut is hardly an unknown quantity … But with this new book he has struck out in a new direction and taken his writing to a whole other level. It is a quite astonishing work." - William Skidelsky, The Observer
"The ordered prose, brimming with tension, is written in a mixture of the third and first persons, even within paragraphs. This is not confusing and, in fact, casts a beguiling spell. The narrator is both involved and distant… Galgut has produced an excellent piece of work that is as inviting as it is troubling." - Paul Womack, The Daily Telegraph
Read an extract from the book on the Guardian's website here.