#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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I love France #7: #70 Review: An Accident in August

I LOVE FRANCE!

This meme will be published every Thursday.
You can share here about any book
or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !
Feel free to grab my button,
and link your own post through Mister Linky
please if possible
include the title of the book or topic in your link.

*******

An Accident in August

by

Laurence Cossé

192 p.

Translated by Alison Anderson

Published by Europa Editions on Aug 30, 2011

This book counts for

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

If you were in France or at least in Europe on August 31, 1997, you probably remember how all the news focused for weeks on the event leading to Lady Diana’s death.

In An Accident in August, Laurence Cossé uses the accident, but with a very smart and original twist.
Not sure this ever showed up in the news back then, but her basic theory for the plot of the book is that the fast driving drunken chauffeur crashed into the bridge because he tried to avoid a car which was unfortunately too well respecting the speed limit in that area – which is extremely rare, as you know if you have ever driven in those Parisian areas and in the périphériques. (If you are looking for a sense of danger and adventure, try it!)

So the book is about Lou the driver of that slow car.
Seeing that she had involuntarily caused an accident, fearful about the consequences, she fled. And from then on, her life was totally changed, with all the consequences from trying to hide, to lie, and to escape, and all the while entangling herself into dramatic events.

If was a delightful short read, as for all books published by Europa Editions I have read so far. I enjoyed very much the suspense in it, and its message: whatever you do may have some long lasting consequences.

So how are you living your life? Do you take time to reflect and measure before doing this or that? Of course, you often don’t know where an action is first going to lead you, but once the machine is rolling, and you see the road it takes, what do you do: do you let it go until it eventually crashes? or do you try to stir it in another direction?

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

In An Accident in August, Laurence Cossé takes one of the most famous news events of recent world history as the starting point for a novel as intelligent as it is gripping. On the now infamous night of August 31, 1997, a young woman’s life is thrown into turmoil when fortune places her at the scene of the fatal car crash in which Lady Diana Frances Spencer, then Princess of Wales, lost her life.

Scared and alone, she flees the scene of the accident. While there are no immediate repercussions resulting from her flight, as news of the tragic event spreads and TV stations, papers and radio talk of nothing else for days, she is assailed by a growing sense of guilt. Terrified of being found out, questioned, arrested, and thrown headfirst into a media whirlwind, she finds herself paralyzed by fear, paranoia, and a growing sense of remorse.

Wonderfully paced, suspenseful and dramatic, An Accident in August is the story of an ordinary person radically changed by her chance involvement in an extraordinary event. She unwittingly becomes a part of history. Yet history itself, not to mention the police and the media, ultimately fails to identify her, and she remains a figure cloaked in mystery. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

She was first a journalist in the French newspaper Le Quotidien de Paris and then at the French public radio France Culture. Most of her novels have been published by the French publishing house Gallimard. [Goodreads]. She aslo published A Novel Bookstore, which I highly recommend.

REVIEWS BY OTHERS

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DO YOU FEEL LIKE READING THIS BOOK?
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August 2011 Wrap Up

Not sure why, but this month of August appears to have had a low reading average.

I read 7 books,with a total of 1500 pages only, which is an average of 48.38 pages/day

and listened to 2 audiobooks, with a total of 27 hours, which is an average of 52 mn/day

Novellas:
Of Mice And Men, by John Steinbeck – 72 p. Read for the Classics Circuit
The Touchstone, by Edith Wharton – 54 p. Read for the Art of the Novella Reading Challenge

Novels:
Everything Beautiful Began After, by Simon Van Booy – 416 p.
Leaving the Atocha Station, by Ben Lerner – 184 p.
Caught in the Winds, by L.D. Wenzel  – 328 p.
hmm, I just notice that these 3 novels were received for free from the publisher and/or the author!

Non-fiction:
Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout, by Philip Connors – 240 p. (upcoming review)
Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life And Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica  – 206 p (upcoming review)

Audiobooks:

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel – 24:19 hours
Blizzard: The Storm That Changed America, by Jim Murphy – 2:40 hours (upcoming review)

My favorite titles this month are for fiction, non-fiction, and audiobook:

This past month, I have come up with a new Meme, entitled ‘I love France‘, I invite you to come and visit every Thursday and link your own posts where you write about books, movies, food, culture related to France. The link here is to the one posted last.

As for Reading Challenges and the like:
2011 Audio Book Challenge – Addicted- Listen to 12 Audio Books: 8/12
My Dewey Decimal Challenge – Master Level =4.  And I am at 23!
2011 Non-Fiction Challenge – 7-9 books from different categories: Future Jeopardy Champion. And I am at 20 different categories!
Art of the Novella Reading Challenge: I completed the “Level: Fascinated — Read 3 novellas, during the month of August 2011″. I actually read 4, but stopped as I realized that I did not enjoy novellas as much as novels.
– It was really fun participating in the Classics Circuit Tour

On September 29th, I will celebrate my 1st blogiversary: I have set up a giveaway and am offering 2 books. Be sure to check it out (if you checked that out last month, go again, now you do NOT need to buy any hand-painted rock to win!)

This September will also be the first time I participate in the BBAW. This is so exciting! I have done all my votings, and my book blogger partner I’m supposed to interview is Tif at Tif Talks Books

For the end of this year, I plan to focus on 2 challenges: the Europa Challenge, and the Japanese Literature Challenge.

ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT YOUR AUGUST READING MONTH,
AND WHAT ARE YOU UP TO IN SEPTEMBER?