Sunday, 8 May 2011

In A Strange Room - Damon Galgut

Synopsis - 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 and 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 of these journeys ends in disaster.  Together, these three journeys will change his life.

Review - Damon Galgut was born and lives in South Africa.  One of his earlier books was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

This book is divided into three parts containing each journey.  It is a gentle read and well written.  I would call it the book equivalent of a road movie.  One man's physical journey across Greece, India and Africa but also a personal and emotional journey. The author writes in the first person as the narrator.

The first third is travelling through Greece but also takes us back to Africa.  He meets a young German and they are drawn to each other but it is a destructive friendship, one independant, dominant and uncaring and the other dependant, wanting involvement and friendship.  The second third is travel through Africa and again the narrator meets a group of Germans.  Initially he is drawn to the translator but is later apparently drawn to the another male in the group.  It is in this part he describes himself as the "Lover" but it is more an obsession and does not really develop further.  The latter third, Damon is the guardian.  Travelling with a friend who suffers from psychosis and manic depression and who is on a mission to commit suicide.

There are no spoilers in this review.  I have given a rough outline of the story but no indication of how these trips pan out.  An interesting book. 3*

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