The Good Doctor Paperback – 10 Sep 2003
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'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. Coetzees 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
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a load of unadulterated rubbish. A totally pointless read. Those who gave it a glowing review need to get off their arty-farty bandwagon and spend some time in the real world!Published 10 months ago by Rupertthecat
A page-turner that I read in a day travelling to Hamburg. Enjoyable but no the author is no Brink or Coetzee yetPublished 11 months ago by Steve Barrett
Very depressing. But possibly true of Sth. Africa at this time. I hope not!Published 11 months ago by Catherine Galwey
This is another one of those books that features in 1001 books to read before you die. I try to read a couple of them every year just in case I'm missing something splendid, put... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
A very touching story. I was never surprised at what was happening - it reinforced my feelings about the nature of human nature. Sad, but true.Published 18 months ago by Pam Gibson .Pam Gibson
It starts off well and by the middle seems likely to become very interesting but the promise of a plot falls to bits and I just wasn't sure how to take the situation and the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Mick
A window on a life of a white doctor working in the African Homelands - beautifully written, cleverly evoking a world that is foreign to many but becomes familiar through the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jane Wighton