Fiction In a Strange Room Donoghue

Published on April 1st, 2010


In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

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Blurb: A young man takes three journeys, 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 whole life. (Atlantic)

Jan Morris, The Guardian

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.

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William Skidelsky, The Observer

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.

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Philip Womack, The Daily Telegraph

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.

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Toby Lichtig, The Times Literary Supplement

Each section of the novel works well as a story in its own right – indeed “The Lover” was chosen for last year’s O. Henry Award – but as a triptych the result is devastating… This is a wise and brilliant book, its shadows dark and lasting. It is also a salient warning for anyone who has ever gone away to escape the self.

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Robert Collins, The Sunday Times

Powerful… In Galgut’s deceptively simple prose, these pieces linger — like his eternally lost traveller-narrator — in an impressively indefinable no man’s land between memoir and fiction. It’s quite an achievement to have made real stories feel as bewitching and unnerving as fables.

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