In a Strange Room Paperback – 1 Apr 2011
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Superb... With this new book Galgut has struck out in a new direction and taken his writing to a whole other level. It is a quite astonishing work. --William Skidelsky, Observer
Acute, beautiful, unsettling. I have rarely felt so moved whilst reading. --Sarah Hall, The Times
One of the most beautiful and unsettling books I've ever read. I can't remember a more troubling and intense study of rootlessness and loneliness; Galgut is a writer of great, almost frightening, depth. --Tash Aw
From the Publisher
SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2010 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
If you have ever travelled under your own stream, alone or off the beaten track, I am sure you'll find Damon's emotions resonant. Galgut's language is simple and hugely compelling. Despite his refusal to engage with conventional punctuation and a shifting - sometimes apparently arbitrary - use of 'I' and 'he', the book is deceptively easy to read. Often in just a handful of words Galgut manages to conjure landscapes and emotions that would take other writers paragraphs to achieve. It's one of those novels that helps you to form incredibly vivid pictures in your head. Although (with one key exception) the novel is rarely about major incidents, it plays like a page-turner. I read the book in 2 sittings, thrown by how compelling I found it. It is a book that confounded my expectations, and was the best present I was given last Christmas.
'In A Strange Room' comprises three short stories (all previously published in The Paris Review), each of which follows a journey made by Damon, an itinerant South African who simultaneously is and isn't Damon Galgut the author. The book doesn't so much blur the boundaries of autobiography and fiction as it does tie them into an indistinguishable knot, hand the knot to the reader and say, with a smug but sad demeanour, `good luck untying that one'. There's a tension between memory and invention that is never resolved; what did happen and what could have happened is the dichotomy that defines this book, and the key relationship is between the writer and his protagonist alter-ego. I suppose it's fitting, given this duality, that my copy was accidentally double-bound with two dust jackets, instead of one.
It's got an odd lay-out for a novel: no scene is longer than a single paragraph, and there are several of these on every page.Read more ›
Confused? This is part of the book's charm - it lures you onwards, leaving you, like 'Damon' unable to rest. You have to keep on seeking, trying to get to the centre.
In the first of the 3 long journeying events, Damon walks widening ellipses across the landscape of Lesotho, with an enigmatic and beautiful German doppelganger of sorts. In the second story, he is again journeying with a group of strangers, and another beautiful young man haunts him. 'Damon' yearns to connect (as he did with the German, Reiner, at times), but his own flaw is that though on one level he yearns for connection, and tires of his restlessness, he cannot take the plunge into intimacy. In the third journey, in India, his companion is a female friend teetering and plunging into madness. In friendship he is capable of deep tenderness and commitment, deep feeling, in fact overwhelmed by feeling, in a way that he is unable to give himself up to with the potential lovers.
What are these restless journeys, this inability to be? What is Damon ever seeking?Read more ›
Although it is a novel it feels strangely unlike one. The protagonist is a South African writer, also named Damon, although this is a work of fiction, the character and the writer share their story. It bears more comparison to Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried however than to Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, which is a blessing. Like those two books, this novel also feels more like connected short stories than a traditional novel. Again, as with those books I started it with no idea what it was about. Metafiction, and I believe this counts, seems to be following me.
The story or rather stories, are travel stories, tapping into the new culture of going travelling, taking a gap year or going off to India to find oneself, which has so very nearly become a cliche. In these stories, Galgut exams the experience of the solo traveller, who by necessity almost, becomes involved in the lives of other travellers met along the road, and the potential artificiality or depth of those short-lived intimacies.
Each story has a different title, 'The Follower', 'The Lover' and 'The Guardian' and it seems to me that Galgut examines the different selves you become around different people, either by the role you play in their life or the self you make yourself be to fit in with them. Like acting, and in this case with the various destinations, all the world is a stage. It also makes the clear point that the relationships you create via travelling become unsustainable in the real world, or will break down under the pressures of existing in a foreign land.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In a Strange Room comprises three linked short stories tracing periods in the life of Damon. The first is the story of a relationship with a fellow traveller, Reiner; the second... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Calypso
This is a beautifully written book, covering ground that has been trodden on before - an author's travels. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Sheena Vernon
Bought as it was our book club book this month. I don't think there was anything I enjoyed about it! The story reads like a poorly written memoir. Read morePublished 21 months ago by J D S
In essence this book covers three events in the narrator’s life, one is in Greece, another in an unnamed African country, the other in India, and all have a rarified atmosphere. Read morePublished on 12 July 2014 by Eileen Shaw
Three short stories, making up one memorable journey of a read. The relationships formed in the book are frustrating, emotional and tragic. Read morePublished on 24 May 2014 by Ally
This book starts slowly and takes a bit of getting used to. However it's really gripping as it progresses and the style is great. Would highly recommend.Published on 23 Feb. 2014 by its ali c
Timeless study of emotions with which one can identify, simple and straightforward writting a pleasure to read, haunting reflextions from long walksPublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by frankie Mcmahon
This is about a man who seems of settling down in any one place, with any one person. Some might say that I am boring because I no longer travel much and am content in my... Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2013 by Mr. D. P. Jay