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The Good Doctor

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  1,422 ratings  ·  130 reviews
"When Laurence Waters arrives at his new post at a deserted rural hospital, staff physician Frank Eloff is instantly suspicious. Laurence is young, optimistic, and full of big ideas - everything Frank, hardened and embittered by years of irrelevancy and disappointment in the "bush," is not. Frank watches with a mixture of bemusement and irritation a Laurence sets about try ...more
Published (first published January 1st 2003)
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Friederike Knabe
Frank Eloff and Laurence Waters, two doctors of different generations, different personalities, and opposing perspectives, are thrown together - sharing a room - when the younger, Laurence, joins the small medical team in a dilapidated hospital in a remote part of South Africa. Damon Galgut, award winning South African author, builds his intense and thought provoking novel around these two opposing characters, their different approaches to the challenges facing the hospital and its community, an ...more
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Erik Simon
Spare, haunting, seamless and profound, this book came to me via a recommendation by Jessica Treat. There's something about those South African writers--Coetzee, Brink, Gordimer and now Galgut--that when they get it right, they really get it right. There's such a ghost that hangs over their books, and this one was no exception. This book was a superb read.
Tanuj Solanki
Excellent novel. The major fault is that it arrived after "Disgrace", J. M. Coetzee's masterpiece. Both novels look at the current political and racial problems of South Africa through the lens of the individual. Both novels have a divorced male protagonist seeking a solution for the problem of sex. While David Lurie, Coetzee's protagonist, falls out of grace due to his sexual impulses, Frank, Galgut's hero, finds in them a secret emancipation. Both protagonists are on the verge of cynical and b ...more
Doctor # 1 is old school, with nostalgia for the good old days of Apartheid. He made much money with a side television gig. He jokes that he could work for a black, as long as the black wasn’t a woman. His fourth wife, the much younger Valerie, feigns outrage.

Doctor # 2 is the black woman Doctor # 1 would not, hypothetically, work for. She runs the medical outpost that is the focus of this novel. It is under-supplied and barely functioning. A nurse is found to be stealing what few supplies there
Who IS the eponymous “good doctor?” Is it Laurence Waters, the idealist, naïve, committed new physician who is primed to make some waves in a threadbare, mostly deserted hospital in post-apartheid South Africa? Or is it Frank Eloff, the disenchanted current doctor in self-exile and who is far more in touch with the realities of the area?

In some ways, it is both: these two men become inexorably connected. Laurence Waters arrives on the scene as a result of a new South African law which requires n
I could only diminish the impact of this book by describing it. Suffice to say one English reviewer said it should have won the Booker - it was merely shortlisted alongside Oryx and Crake - and whilst I have not read the winner of that year, it must be a darn good book.

Rest here:

Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in March 2004.

During the apartheid regime in South Africa, the regions set aside as "homelands" were supposed to be some kind of showcase for the idea that there was some measure of freedom for black people. (The phrase used was "self-determination for native peoples".) Even then, they generally seem to have been rather sad places; the South African government used some of the less appealing land in the country for the homelands, much like the land provided b
Ah, the classic good vs. evil conflict. There is a good, idealistic doctor and a bad, self-destructive doctor who is doing nothing but treading water in his life. They meet, they befriend each other, they have conflicts, they have huge blowup arguments, and each permanently affects the course of the other's life.

I'm not typically a fan of good vs. evil stories because they tend to be so overly simplistic (this is why I dislike most movies). And this was not overly simplistic, so I appreciated th
This book is hauntingly well written. It is about the two different personalities , Laurence Waters, the new, energetic doctor who lives on the grand ideals of duty and righteousness, and Frank, the older army veteran whose moral compass quivers in the grey of history's frenzy. It is also as much about periods of transition, and how reluctant the past is in giving way to the new, to "change and innovation," as Dr Ngema puts it. It is interesting to think that Frank and Laurence are the same man, ...more
I've a new favorite writer: the South African Damon Galgut. "The Good Doctor" is disturbing, taut and compelling. As in his earlier novel, "The Quarry," Galgut has written a novel that explores the climate of post-apartheid So. Africa, but this novel takes on psychology, friendship, politics, and black-white relations in a less oblique and more satisfying manner (albeit less experimentally). The narrator is both likable and not; the novel explores the complexities of character and relationships ...more
I read this when it was on the Booker Prize shortlist (2005?). It's a while ago now so I don't remember the details except that it was a different perspective on the 'new' South Africa after the initial euphoria and optimism had diminished a bit. Galgut is a fine writer, I recently read his The Impostor and it was great.
Sketching the picture of a scanitly provided for hospital and the dilemmas of a doctor working there, the book is very much like Graham Greene's 'The Burnt out case'. It presents the story of a doctor who is apparently running away from the troubles of his life. Frank tries to find refuge in a rural hospital where he hopes to forget his own troubles while solving those of others. However, when he joins his postion, the conditions are in total contrast to what he'd expected - he has unknowingly c ...more
You know there will be no happy ending when the opening line is 'The first time I saw him I thought, he won't last.' The first two pages are full of words like - tall, thin, dusty, empty, frail, wilting, burden of leaves, ragged trees, basic standard issue, ugly, austere - and the best one of all which sums up the whole mood of the book - bleak. What a writer this man is. From beginning to end the reader is taken on slowly unwinding spool of inevitable tragedy. Danger and a sense of foreboding i ...more
Damon Galgut has an exceptional quality to pierce your mind with his writing. Every word from him embodies a listlessness, but the whole still comes together to make you nervous with thought and a latent madness. There were times when I thought Galgut was articulating my mind, and that is just not in this book, but more so in his other remarkable work - In a Strange Room.
The prose in this book is beautiful and fluid - perhaps that is a South African quality (though sometimes I struggle with Gord
Yvonne Boag
The Good Doctor tells the story of two doctors who are almost exact opposites of each other. Lawrence arrives at the hospital in South Africa full of passion and optimism. He wants to make a difference in other peoples lives. Frank has been there for years and is rather pessimistic about the human condition. He is horrified by the fact that he has to share a room with Lawrence. They are an unlikely paring with Frank stubbonly refusing to become Lawrence's friend due to circumstances that have oc ...more
Hansda Shekhar
Damon Galgut's The Good Doctor is a good book. I liked the character of Dr. Frank Eloff a lot, I felt for him. I can't say the same for Dr. Laurence Waters. Although I was sad for what happened to him in the end, I was unable to - at any point in the novel - sympathize with Dr. Waters.

Like In A Strange Room, the first Damon Galgut-novel I read, and J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace, the first South African novel I read, The Good Doctor too is short and sparse, yet Galgut effectively tells the story of a
a brain fever of a novel, the reader just wants someone, anyone, to have a modicum of human empathy. alas, not in a damon galgut novel.
have fun. this is a short novel, but maybe not short enough. another cruel whip lash.
This is the second book I’ve read by Damon Galgut and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. The story of the doctors take place in a desolate rural hospital in the middle the former homeland in South Africa. You can feel the bleakness of this locale, the isolation and the loneliness. Galgut allows the reader to feel these things. His words flow effortlessly…and it is words like this, that make me admire this author…

“She bent over the papers again and the conversation slipped out of sight, into
Leslie Shimotakahara
A fascinating character study of the relationship between two doctors in rural South Africa - one of whom is bright-eyed and naive, the other of whom is jaded and cynical - in the post-Apartheid era. Although at first it seems perfectly clear who the good doctor is, the novel progressively complicates this question.... I was particularly interested in reading this novel because I've started some research on my own great grandfather, who was a doctor in a Japanese-Canadian Internment camp during ...more
Diane S.
3.5 review to follow.
Christine Blachford
I quite enjoyed this, but I can't exactly put my finger on why. The Good Doctor tells the story of a rundown, almost empty African hospital, staffed by a disparate bunch of doctors and nurses. Our protagonist tells of the arrival of a young, new doctor who wants to improve the situation, and we run through their various adventures and reflect on life up to that point.

The writing is evocative and moving, it draws you in but also keeps you at arms length. You feel each emotion but there's a detach
Heather Macdonald
I read the Good Doctor as the chosen book for the Helmsdale book group for this month.
I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, I usually read a lot of science fiction so this was a bit out of my comfort zone. However it was very well written, had fantastic characterization and had you questioning peoples motives and sense of morality and even reflecting upon your own morality and the way you judge people, it was interesting to see how different people in our book group felt about the chara
David Meldrum
I really don't know what to make of Damon Galgut's novels. I've read two of them now: they're sort and punchy, with an undeniable power in the prose. They linger in the memory. The plots, though, seem strangely inconsequential; some of the major plot-points are so obvious you could sketch out much of the story after 30 pages; and I have a lurking concern about his treatment of female characters. Good, but ... and it's an increasingly significant 'but' ...
This one seems to have much to say about
"Narcissus Goldmund. Romantic Cynic. Idealist Pragmatist.

But that's old, isn't it?

Wait, add Galgut, S Africa, some lost history and intense psychological defence mechanisms. Gem! This is the conflict that goes on almost everyday in my life! Even at this age, flipping between....this and that!"
This South African morality play is reminiscent of Coetzee and Kafka. It takes place in the early 2000s in a virtually non-functioning hospital in one of the former "homelands." "The real world always wins." (p.100) I thought it very well written with interesting characters and plot.
I read The Good Doctor twice and enjoyed it more the second time although it's still not quite a 5. I also read The Impostor which he wrote directly after The Good Doctor. It's also quite good but more like early Ian McEwan - very suspenseful.
A strange, but riveting book. Black and white, good and evil, ideals and cynicism, clashing and reclashing, all against the background of the death of apartheid and the vacuum it left. Not an optimistic book, but a powerful one.
Whilst this novel may be sparse and dry to some, it had me completely captivated. No big words or cheap page turning tricks. Just a simple story, slowly unwound, and a protagonist left blinded and isolated by his own ideals.
This was a heck of a depressing book about a heck of a depressing man. I think it was a well-written book, and having a narrator that isn't very likeable doesn't mean a book isn't worth reading. Unfortunately, the narrator is really the only character with any depth at all, with the possible (and only possible) exception of the title character. There's something deep about post-apartheid South Africa in here, and there's a heck of a lot of social commentary, but it's hard for me to recommend a b ...more
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Bokt goodreads gr...: Damon Galgut - De goede arts / The good doctor 1 5 Jun 01, 2013 04:31AM  
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Damon Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He wrote his first novel, A Sinless Season, when he was seventeen. His other books include Small Circle of Beings, The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs, The Quarry, The Good Doctor and The Impostor. The Good Doctor was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Dublin/IMPAC Award. The Imposter was also shortlisted for the Com ...more
More about Damon Galgut...
In a Strange Room Arctic Summer The Impostor The Quarry The Beautiful Screaming Of Pigs

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“The funny thing is, I don't care too much. You think you love something so badly, but when it's gone you find out you don't care so much.” 4 likes
“Past a certain point, maybe, a person's character defines itself and stays fixed in your mind.” 1 likes
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