#89 review: In a Strange Room

In a Strange Room

by

Damon GALGUT

207 pages

Published by Europa Editions in 2010

This book counts for

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I did not enjoy this book. First, it was confusing, at the beginning I was not sure he was the follower, or the guy he was following was the follower. I’m sure the ambiguity was  on purpose, adding to the feeling of confusion of the main character throughout the book. Plus, it was too gloomy, and too focused on his confusion and feeling of loss, too focused on his inner dark journey than on the countries he goes through aimlessly. I was trying to get books from my library published by Europa editions without having to request them, but this was not a too happy choice.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

In this newest novel from South African writer Damon Galgut, a young loner travels across eastern Africa, Europe, and India. Unsure what he’s after, and reluctant to return home, he follows the paths of travelers he meets along the way. Treated as a lover, a follower, a guardian, each new encounter-with an enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers, a woman on the verge-leads him closer to confronting his own identity. Traversing the quiet of wilderness and the frenzy of border crossings, every new direction is tinged with surmounting mourning, as he is propelled toward a tragic conclusion.

In a Strange Room is a brilliant, stylish novel of anger and compassion, longing and thwarted desire, and a hauntingly beautiful evocation of life on the road. First published in The Paris Review in three parts, one of which was selected for a National Magazine Award, and another for the O. Henry Prize, In a Strange Room was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 Imposter. The Good Doctor was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Dublin/IMPAC Award. He lives in Cape Town

REVIEWS BY OTHERS

Much more positive than mine:

“This is a wise and brilliant book.” –Times

“A beautiful book, strikingly conceived and hauntingly written, a writer’s novel par excellence without a clumsy word in it.” –The Guardian
“Galgut’s powerful writing is honest and insightful, polished as it is to a marble-like perfection.” –The Globe and Mail [amazon]

But another reviewer, Jenny, on Goodreads, has the same opinion. Read her review here.

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2 thoughts on “#89 review: In a Strange Room

  1. I guess you and I will have to remain the insightful minority in not liking this book. I remember feeling angry when I finished it – that my time had been wasted reading it, that it had been short listed for the Booker when one of my favorite writers was left on the long list that year (David Mitchell), and that it just didn’t seem to be meaningful at all, for the reader or the protagonist.

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