Monday, 13 September 2010

In a Strange Room

Title: In a Strange Room

Author: Damon Galgut

Number of pages: 180

Started: 11 September 2010

Finished: 13 September 2010

Opening words:

It happens like this. He sets out in the afternoon on the track that has been shown to him and soon he leaves the little town behind. In an hour or so he is among low hills covered by olive trees and grey stones, from which there is a view out over a plain that gradually descends to the sea. He is intensely happy, which is possible for him when he is walking and alone.
As the road rises and falls there are moments when he can see far ahead and other moments when he can see nothing at all. He keeps looking out for other people, but the huge landscape seems to be completely deserted. The only sign of human beings is the occasional house, tiny and distant, and the fact of the road itself.

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

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. A novel of longing and thwarted desire, rage and compassion, "In a Strange Room" is the hauntingly beautiful evocation of one man's search for love, and a place to call home.

What I thought:

I have, somewhat foolishly, agreed with some people at work to read the Booker Prize shortlist before the winner is announced in a few weeks time. So, this book was the first one that I read from the list. I have to admit that I read it first because it was the shortest. But that aside, I did enjoy the book.

It was really three novellas rather than a novel, and each could have been read independently. I liked the author’s style and he reminded me of Paul Auster, of whom I am a big fan. The three stories were all set around travelling and showed the difficulties of human relationships, in all their forms.

I found it enjoyable and very readable book, but nothing jumped out at me that seemed to suggest that this book was worthy of great accolade. That last comment seems too negative, as I am not suggesting that the book is bad in some way. There was just nothing that blew me away and made me think that it is the very best the book world has to offer. Perhaps by the time I have read the others, I will have changed my mind.


anothercookiecrumbles said...

I want to read this book - read some great reviews about it, so.... maybe next year (or when the winner is announced).

I know, I know - i'm a philistine of sorts.

Random Reflections said...

anothercookiecrumbles - it was a good book, but a slight cheat that it was nominated for the Booker because it is made up of three short stories. I wonder if that in itself will mean that it doesn't win.

It was a good read though and I would recommend it. There are a lot of good books out there though so it can be tough to narrow down which one to read next.