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The Good Doctor

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,654 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
When Lauren Waters arrives at his rural posting, Frank 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 staff in the deserted hospital view Laurence with a mixture of awe and mistrust.

The town beyond the hospital is also coping with arrivals, and the return of old
Paperback, 222 pages
Published 2010 by Penguin Books (first published 2003)
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Petra X
Here we have four doctors and a male nurse in a small rural hospital in South Africa with no money, tables, spare beds or anything much material, and only one patient. Sounds like a sitcom or tragicomedy at least. But it's not.

The head of the hospital, a black female doctor and the male nurse who isn't trained and is a thief with a nasty angle in threats that he may or may not mean, are out to further their own career aims. The other three doctors, all white, are busy screwing either Maria, a ve
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

Following two men working in a rural, near-deserted South African hospital, Damon Galgut's The Good Doctor is an ambiguous story, in which nothing happens, and everything happens; a book of thick and palpable atmosphere. Frank Eloff is the long-established deputy director of the hospital, perpetually waiting for a step upwards to the top spot, a move that has been repeatedly promised, but never quite happens. At the beginning of the story, a new j
Aug 19, 2014 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-african
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
Friederike Knabe
Mar 19, 2012 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, african-lit
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
Nov 20, 2010 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jul 26, 2015 orsodimondo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sudafrica
Il Sudafrica post-apartheid è un paese ancora da costruire.
Lo è quando Galgut scrive questo romanzo.
Lo è nelle opere di Coetzee che conosco (lo è già meno nei romanzi, più contemporanei di Deon Meyer).
In queste pagine ambientate all’inizio del terzo millennio verità e riconciliazione sono una formula di principio, non sostanza: di verità ce n’è poca, e la riconciliazione è un obiettivo da raggiungere.
Il confine tra bene e male è sottile e frastagli
Apr 20, 2014 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:

Feb 11, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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'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
Sep 03, 2015 Kimbofo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The end of the year might be four months off, but Damon Galgut’s The Good Doctor is certainly going to be on my list of favourite reads for 2015. I read it over the course of a couple of days, but every time I put the book down, I kept thinking about it, and now, a fortnight later, the characters and the story still remain with me — the sign of an exceptionally good novel.

First published in 2003, The Good Doctor is set in the “new” post-apartheid South Africa. It tells the story of Frank Eloff,
May 13, 2012 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Vit Babenco
Sep 30, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The past and the future are dangerous countries; I had been living in no man’s land, between their borders, for the last seven years.”
Desolation, friendship, idealism: the story is simple but it is full of complex undertows.
“Why? Is that too real for you? Ideas are always better than reality, of course. But sooner or later the real world always wins.”
There are two sides to everything one does – there are two sides to every coin. Life is an ambiguous thing…
“Everything is politics… The moment you
Jul 08, 2013 Kishore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Simon Mcleish
Feb 12, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 27, 2015 Andrejs rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
nav vērts.
Dec 28, 2015 Shane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Galgut’s novel is a powerful portrait of a post-Apartheid South Africa stumbling towards an uncertain future. The book reminded me strongly of Graham Greene’s novel, “The Quiet American,” where idealism perishes under the pressure of harsh reality.

Lawrence is the idealistic, white, young, “good doctor” who has come to a remote medical outpost situated in a former Bantustan, a facility short on supplies, medical personnel and patients. He believes in duty above all else, in telling the truth, fix
Feb 02, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 22, 2009 Vivek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 26, 2013 Zainab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2012 Kiwiflora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2011 Madhuri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
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
Sep 25, 2011 Yvonne Boag rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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
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.
Feb 11, 2012 Monica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ruth Brumby
Apr 02, 2015 Ruth Brumby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damon Galgut The Good Doctor

There might be a lesson in all this, if only I could find it.

Remember what you told me once. Symbols have got nothing to do with medicine.
What do you mean? Tehogo's not a symbol...
Are you sure about that?

Fascinating, gripping, well-written, an excellent book, but not in the end quite satisfying, leaving me with many questions and puzzles.
I am interested in the relationship between this book and 'In a Strange Room'; one appears to be more autobiographical and one more
Diane S ⛄
Feb 04, 2015 Diane S ⛄ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2014 Heather Macdonald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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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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