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The Good Doctor Paperback – 10 Sep 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; 5 7 9 8 6 4 edition (10 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843542013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843542018
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,629,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A gripping read, laced throughout with powerful emotional truth and Damon Galgut's extraordinary vision.’ -- Julie Wheelwright, The Independent

‘A taut exploration of the shifting landscape, cultural and moral, of the new South Africa.’ -- Erica Wagner, The Times

‘Galgut seems the most likely of the crop of young South African novelists to fill J.M. Coetzee’s shoes.’ -- The Guardian

‘Invites comparison with Greene, Conrad and Naipaul. A very fine novel.’ -- Daily Telegraph

From the Inside Flap

When Laurence Waters arrives at his rural hospital posting in a former homeland of the new South Africa, Frank, a fellow doctor there, is instantly suspicious. Laurence is everything Frank is not - young, optimistic, and full of new schemes. The two become uneasy friends, while the rest of the meagre staff in the deserted hospital view Laurence with a mixture of awe and mistrust.
The tired, ghostly town beyond the hospital is also coping with new arrivals, and the return of old faces. The Brigadier, a self-fashioned dictator from apartheid days, is rumoured to be still alive. And down at Mama's Place, the town's only watering hole, a group of soldiers have moved in with their malign commandant, a man Frank has met before and is keen to avoid for his own dark reasons. Laurence wants to help - but in a world where the past is demanding restitution from the present, his ill-starred idealism cannot last. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Galgut's novel evokes the stark landscape of rural post-apartheid South Africa. But do not let the daunting subject matter scare you away. This is a highly accessible novel written in simple, but eloquent prose. It's told from the point of view of middle-aged Frank Eloff who is an under-achieving doctor that has spent many years of his life at a remote hospital waiting to be promoted. He begins the tale when an enthusiastic young doctor named Laurence joins the hospital as part of a required year of training. The two are required to share a room. A uncomfortable friendship blossoms. Laurence is determined to use his time at the hospital to make some radical changes as part of the new South Africa he welcomes. Frank however isn't so certain that the old South Africa has entirely left. Through the novel they are confronted by unavoidable people and problems from the past which slow the progress Laurence so ardently desires.
It's a literary work that contemplates the dilemma of the new South Africa with the same brevity as Gordimer's None to Accompany Me and Coetzee's Disgrace. Apart from the political connotations, this novel is a powerful and haunting tale about friendship and a man coming to terms with his middle age. It echoes the disturbing quality of Ibsen's Ghosts through its repetition of sexual betrayal. Toward the end of Frank's narrative, his accounts become more hallucinatory and his honesty becomes uncertain. A tremendous guilt overshadows his narrative. There is a desire to shake the complacency of the environment, yet any attempt at progress instantly proves futile. This is a very melancholy novel, but one of captivating beauty and intriguing mystery.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. The writing is very good and its simplicity hides a great depth of feeling. It reminded me of the writing of the Japanese author, Murakami, where we are given hints of what is happening but are left in the dark as to its exact workings out. The main character holds his secrets well but is very complex, thus making you want to read on to see what his eventual fate will be. Somehow, like the best plays, it takes you to a level of carthasis and leaves you wondering about it for a long time after you've closed the last page.
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Format: Paperback
I have followed Galgut's writing since 'A Sinless Season' appeared when he was but 17 years old, and this book is a triumph, far more entertaining than J.M. Coetzee's ramblings at the moment. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it stands, I think, a good chance to win.
In an unnamed bush 'hospital' somewhere in South Africa, a complacent doctor is steadily more thrown off balance and morally confused after the arrival there of a younger, more idealistic member of staff, and, later, of a figure from the narrator's past. To relate more here would spoil the reading experience, which had me glued to my chair until I had turned the last page. Suffice it to say that Galgut has the rare ability to write 'literary' fiction which is taut and utterly compelling.
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Format: Paperback
I just had to review this book when I read the other (negative) reviews of Galgut's wonderful novel. Were we reading the same book? I absolutely loved it. No, it's not a tense thriller, but then I don't think that's what the author is trying to achieve. It has a wonderfully subtle plot to keep you gripped, but where this book really scored for me was in the writing. Galgut has created a compelling character in Laurence Waters (the 'Good Doctor'). Throughout the novel I willed Waters to be a better man than he was, to make me like him more, but he continually seemed capable only of curtailing his own happiness, revealing little of himself to the other characters in the book.
Perhaps this is what some other reviewers did not get when reading this book. Galgut shows extraordinary vision in his portrayal of a flawed man who doesn't want or need to be liked. This is not weak characterisation by the author!
If you want a fast paced book with twists in every chapter read a thriller. This book is all about the writing, and Galgut thoroughly deserved his Man Booker shortlisting.
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By A Customer on 15 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written novel, spare, honest and compelling, which confronts the confusion and uncertainty of post-apartheid South Africa and offers disturbing insights but no easy solutions. The theme is political, but this is no arid tract: the characterisation is sharp and true; the plot gripping and totally credible and the narrator's voice, disillusioned yet searingly honest, not least about himself, totally authentic. The criminal madness of apartheid has gone but still casts long shadows and everyone seems to be stumbling in the dark, including the apparently clear-eyed idealist Laurence Waters. This is not a comfortable book but it is insightful, illuminating and truthful. An excellent read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Good Doctor - Damon Galgut

"The first time I saw him I thought, he won't last"

Frank Eloff, a doctor who has left his mainstream practice after his marriage breaks up takes up a position at an isolated, understaffed hospital in one of the old Bantustans. He keeps himself busy by doing the minimum amount of work. His world is turned on his head when Lawrence Waters arrives to do his community service after qualifying as a doctor.

Damon Galgut captures the everyday life in this little outpost through beautiful prose. It's a story that must be read, for no other reason than for the beauty of the language and how Damon has managed to get the prose to express the sheer nothingness of the place where this little abandoned hospital with its group of strangers must live & share their lives.
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