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The Impostor

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  421 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
A gripping tale of guilty secrets, betrayal, and racial tension, of isolation and revenge in modern-day South Africa, from the Man Booker Prize—shortlisted author of The Good Doctor

When Adam moves into the abandoned house on the dusty edge of town, he is hoping to recover from the loss of his job and his home in the city. But when he meets Canning — a shadowy figure from h
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by McClelland & Stewart (first published December 31st 2007)
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Feb 11, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Shallow Intimacy of The Impostor

(Exploring the Vortex with Damon Galgut)

Dear Damon,

When we met in Antwerp, I caught a glimpse of what my life might be like if my dream of literary fame and fortune ever came true. It was not a pretty sight. You had arrived in Belgium on your own, with a couple of interviews and appearances lined up. Then it was off to Amsterdam for a day, to meet with your Dutch publisher, before jetting off to Canada for a book tour (lasting a month, if memory serves). I’m s
Un'altra africa.

Non è l'Africa romantica e crudele di Karen Blixen.
Non è l'Africa magica e crudele di Kuki Gallman.
non è l'Africa rivoluzionaria e crudele di Nadine Gordimer.
non è l'Africa vigliacca e crudele di Coetzee.
l'Africa di Dalmon Galgut è solo un' (Sud)Africa crudele, dove nessuno è quello che sembra e tutto si muove indolentemente, come una goccia che cade da un rubinetto che perde, lenta e inesorabile, scavando solchi e vuoti incolmabili, creando una frattura insanabile tra promesse e
I don't know if I can convey how much I was looking forward to this novel. I came across Galgut last summer for the first time; I read 'Quarry' first, and then 'The Good Doctor.' Both are excellent. 'Quarry' is a prose poem of a novel, a stark and haunting one. 'The Good Doctor' is more fleshed out but still conveys a harsh (and beautiful) changing landscape with questions of morality, authenticity, at its center. I would call both of these novels unconventional, innovative in their structure an ...more
orsodimondo (a zonzo)
Una zona del Sudafrica che sembra sperduta, una piccola città con un solo albergo, una terra marginale fra le montagne abitata da gente che non gradisce i forestieri, una casa abbandonata con un giardino invaso dalle erbacce che sconfiggono ogni tentativo di pulizia.
Una sistemazione piuttosto inospitale, che però si adatta ad Adam Napier, ai tempi del collegio soprannominato Pannolino perché se la faceva sempre sotto: Adam è rimasto disoccupato a quarant’a
Jul 27, 2014 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit
It's odd how many people see this as a thriller when, although to be sure it is unputdownable and one could say it is thrilling, it is anything but a thriller. For a start there is no hero, not even an anti-hero. Instead the main character is a weak, immoral, selfish man who plays at being poor for a while and hasn't a brave bone in his body. This is not to say one is unsympathetic to him, far from it. But he is never anything other than pathetic and the same goes for his next door neighbour and ...more
Jen Squire
Damon Galgut is a writer I was introduced to last year, and had one of those "how could I not have known about this guy before" reactions. Both 'In A Strange Room' and 'Circle of Beings' showed a mastery of language, the power of understatement, and an incredible insight into people's complexities.

So I was thrilled to see him on the shelves in my new local library. Took this home with a mountain of other books, and gave it to my mum to read as I was still in something else. I said, 'He's a maste
Feb 20, 2011 Sunil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review pending, but just wanted to say I was slightly let down by the ending. It lost a star because Damon couldn't ignore the typical novelist's urge to somehow tie all the loose ends into an ending. But reality carries on, especially in Africa where reality is more real than elsewhere; as much one can't overlook Africa's past one can't as well impose a desired end point. That's where Naipaul's 'Bend in the River' looms tall over every other book that deals with African themes. Nevertheless, ' ...more
Anne Chappel
Aug 04, 2014 Anne Chappel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here is an excellent portrayal of character and the complications of life in South Africa. loved the descriptions of landscapes. sparse language with poetic choice of words. Maybe it started slowly - but read it carefully as everything hangs together. meeting the strange neighbour, everything. I am a fan of Damon, and if you, bychance, read this Damon in your wanderings on Goodreads - may I say - very well done.
Nov 02, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-novels
A well written novel about modern South Africa. Adam Napier loses his job and home. He moves to a run down house in the country owned by his brother to clean it up and write poetry. He runs across someone he was at school with. Adam doesn't remember him but Canning remembers Adam with great affection. Canning has inherited his father's estate and Adam spends weekends there with Canning and his wife. Canning intends to turn it into a golf course.
At times this is rather bleak and has a touch of t
I was familiar with Damon Galgut’s work from The Good Doctor, which was shortlisted for the Booker in 2003, so when I saw The Impostor as an audio book I borrowed it from the library. It’s very good indeed…

It’s the story of Adam Napier, a bit of a loser, who comes to live in a small town in the Karoo (South Africa). He’s lost his job to a Black African intern that he himself trained, because in the new post apartheid South Africa, white men do – though you get the impression that Adam was probab
Jul 27, 2015 Pranietha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I just started reviewing books recently, I generally read reviews by readers on Goodreads or google up reviews from the media. I do this in order to gauge my understanding of the book, and to reread portions in the book that may have eluded my understanding. Damon Galgut’s book, The Impostor put me in a fix. Everyone else was raving about this book. Also, his previous book, The Good Doctor, had been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. This was my first book by the author, and als ...more
Maya Rock
Jul 11, 2010 Maya Rock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I figured out the reason all my ratings are so high on goodreads is because I quit reading things that are headed in the below three star direction.

I like Damon Galgut's style sooooo much. Really precise and beautiful, hard sentences. This book felt a bit more contrived than the other one I read by him, The Good Doctor. Also the main character, Adam was kind of annoying. Nevertheless, I just like writing so much, I shrug at the flaws in the story.
Dec 15, 2014 Genevieve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this book drags a bit at first, once you get into the characters' lives, it really gets moving. Not only do you get the benefit of characters whose choices are questionable - at best, but also you get the underlying benefit of the complexities of a post-apartheid South Africa.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to enjoy a good book while exploring a world other than their own.
May 06, 2012 Madhuri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
As usual, Galgut immerses skillfully in the monotony of life, the tenuous social structure of new Africa, the encounter of ideal versus reality. The mood is very similar to Good doctor, and I liked it. Until the last few pages - when it just came crashing down. There was too much drama, and then an imposed encounter in the end which just didn't fit in.
Bronwyn Rykiert
This was a book club read which I found uninteresting, mostly because I did not like the main character. Possibly the person we met was not the true Adam, this was him going through depression? Adam had just lost his job of over 20 years, his home and I guess whatever else he had going for him. His younger brother Gavin helps him by allowing him to stay in a home he has in the country. Adam was lazy and did nothing at all to start with then he met a man who he had gone to school with, Kenneth Ca ...more
Sergio GRANDE films
This book was recommended by a friend who is an assiduous reader. Logically, I had expectations.

As I reached the halfway point I thought "Hmmm, interesting set of circumstances. The characters are a little thin -Adam is solipsistic, Baby is a bad stereotype and Canning is a retard- but this is only halfway. Let's see how the story unravels and the characters develop..."
As I reached the 3/4 mark, I thought, "Hmmm... Still not unraveling. I wonder how will he (the author) tie in all these sub-plo
Jun 21, 2016 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the moment i’m nearly ready with Philip Roth’s The Human Stain (there should be a review up by Sunday) but I thought i’d take a tiny break and read The Imposter and I finished it in two hours flat.

My first experience of Galgut was through The Good Doctor, which I felt was quite sinister but a wholly satisfying read. The good news is that The Impostor is even better, it’s Galgut at his peak.

Adam Napier is unemployed and homeless so he escapes from Johannesburg and visits his brother, Gavin in
Aug 12, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having lost his job, Adam Napier moves into a small, vacant house belonging to his brother, out of the city in the desert-like countryside of South Africa, intent on reviving his youthful desire to write poetry. When he meets Kenneth Canning he is surprised to find that they went to school together, although he has no recollection of his ex-classmate. Canning is now a successful businessman, and seems to be involved in shady deals, which thankfully he does not try to include Adam in. Instead, Ad ...more
Aug 06, 2015 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The protagonist of this novel, Adam, is something of a non-character. He dithers and drifts his way through the story, gets involved with people and situations without any definite intention, rarely makes a decision, then when he does he probably regrets it, and finds it difficult to commit to any person, activity or moral and political standpoint.
It is a fast-paced novel for all that; everyone else is very busy with various, usually dodgy schemes. Things happen to and around Adam, he even insti
Feb 17, 2010 Dillon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-fiction
A character driven story Adam NApier, an unemployed man, turned poet, who moves to one of his rich brother's dilapidated homes out in the bush. He plans to right poetry, but never finds inspiration nor skill to produce anything of merit. He thinks he is a poet; he is not.

While killing time at the local grocery store, he runs into Canning, a former childhood classmate who is determined "Nappy" saved his life as a child, though Adam doesn't even remember him. Canning claims to be a man of the new
Aug 13, 2013 Tai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in post-apartheid South Africa, an inescapable sense of displacement suffuses this bleakly fascinating account of one man's attempt to escape the world and himself through isolationism and poetry.

After losing his job, girlfriend and sense of purpose, our anti-hero Adam moves into a rundown old shack in the middle of nowhere with the romantic intention of pursuing his long pushed aside dream of becoming a poet.

Instead, he sinks into an aimless boozy depression. The plot thickens when Adam r
Arja Salafranca
Feb 11, 2012 Arja Salafranca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a quiet powerful story, a novel trimmed of excess, where every word means what it should. A handful of characters dominate the terrain of The Imposter which is set in a small, sleepy Karoo town. This is a pared down novel, small in pages, running at just over 200 pages, and yet huge in impact. This is a book which draws you in from the first moment you begin you reading, and keeps you mesmerised. Quietly. There is no gore; there are, seemingly, no cliff hangers.

And yet, peer beneath the
Nov 16, 2013 Sónia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reacção que tive ao terminar este livro foi a mesma que tenho quando me ocorre algo de muito bom na vida. Os olhos brilham, sorrio e fico sem palavras. Que surpresa tão boa, que livro fantástico!

A estória é aparentemente simples, embora o contexto cultural seja controverso. Refiro-me à sociedade pós-apartheid e a todas as clivagens sociais decorrentes. Este é um romance repleto das realidades da vida na África do Sul, com lugar para os esquemas de corrupção, para as suas contradições e para a
Nov 13, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adam Napier is zijn baan en huis in Johannesburg kwijt geraakt. Hij is tijdelijk ingetrokken bij zijn broer Gavin en diens vriendin Charmaine. Hij heeft besloten om weer gedichten te gaan schrijven en met dat doel verhuist hij naar het huis dat zijn broer in Karoo bezit. Een klein stadje op het platteland in Zuid-Afrika.
Zijn broer verklaart hem eigenlijk voor gek, maar Adam is er zeer op gespitst.
Adam komt in Karoo naast een wat schichtige, eenzame oudere man te wonen, waar hij na verloop van ti
Stephanie Karaolis
I’ve discovered some real gems via Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal, but I’ve also ended up reading some real duds as well. Unfortunately, The Imposter just didn’t do it for me – I found it slow, boring and just a bit odd.

Set in South Africa, the novel follows Adam Napier. He’s a bit of a no-hoper, with a failed marriage behind him and no job since being usurped by his own trainee and made redundant. He reluctantly accepts an offer from his successful brother to move into a run-down house in the count
Apr 06, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it
Adam Napier's life has unravelled. He has lost his job and home in Johannesburg and, lacking the financial and visceral resources to mount an immediate rebound, moves into the empty house that his successful brother Gavin had purchased a number of years earlier with the intention of turning it into a country retreat, but had never got around to doing anything with it. The house, in the South African Karoo (semi-desert region), is located on the edge of a dusty and economically depressed town. Ad ...more
Feb 20, 2013 Baljit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What starts of slow and and introspective turns out to be pretty intriguing...the connections between the characters had me wondering who was the real imposter. The 'blue man' escaping from his hidden past; Channing who claimed to be his classmate,immersed in shady dealings or materialistc Baby.

am paticularly taken up by this passage:

Such a small thing. So tiny. One little death in a dusty corner of the world. People are slaughtered in thier thousands, all over the planet, every day; the histo
Stef Smulders
Aug 12, 2014 Stef Smulders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-stars
It is a miracle to me that this novel hasn't become a major bestseller as it has all the elements necessary: interesting characters, intriguing storyline, a well-hidden plot and beautiful prose. In addition it poses questions about the lack of truthfulness in our lives: how often are we untrue to others, society and ourselves? And is it an unavoidable part without which life becomes unbearable?
May 17, 2016 Alyson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was mostly ok, I'm not sure why I didn't rave over it, maybe because I didn't really engage with the main character.

The environment and backdrop are well described, but I just wasn't that pulled in to really give it more than 3 stars.

There is a plot, but it's relatively slow paced.
Joe Stamber
Jan 13, 2013 Joe Stamber rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, read-2013
The Imposter is an interesting tale combining the changing culture of South Africa with the struggle of a man taking time out to find himself. It's a gentle story, an intimate study of Adam's attempts to find purpose in his life. The writing was good, if a little uninspiring at times, and I always looked forward to picking it up again. The story itself deserves 3 stars, but one thing ruined it for me - after starting in past tense, once the main body of the novel starts it moves to present tense ...more
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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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“Poetry was syllable and rhythm. Poetry was the measurement of breath. Poetry was time make audible. Poetry evoked the present moment; poetry was the antidote to history. Poetry was language free from habit.” 3 likes
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