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In a Strange Room

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  3,214 ratings  ·  427 reviews
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 disa ...more
Hardcover, 180 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Atlantic Books (first published October 13th 2010)
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Georgia Burrows Alienation, it is basically a memoir.

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Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travellers of the land, sea and heart
Recommended to Jaidee by: my sweetheart
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "existential, melancholy, profound" stars !!

2017 Silver Award (Tie) (2nd Favorite Read)

This is the perfect night to write this review. Gloomy, rainy and cold as I walked the neighborhood earlier while listening to Nick Cave.

I read this book over our recent vacation late at night on our balcony while watching the moon overlook the Mediterranean Sea. This book is my first read by South African Writer Damon Galgut.
This book was shortlisted for both the Booker and Ondaatje literary prizes in 201
Vit Babenco
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In a Strange Room is a tale of the modern day Wandering Jew, a man without roots.
He watches, but what he sees isn’t real to him. Too much travelling and placelessness have put him outside everything, so that history happens elsewhere, it has nothing to do with him. He is only passing through.

I consider Damon Galgut a real discovery – he is a very original writer with his own vivid vision of life and unique approach the psychology of a loner.
He has always had a dread of crossing borders, he doesn
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south-africa
Things happen once only and are never repeated, never return. Except in memory.

A young South-African man travels through Greece, Africa and India. Three journeys, three continents, different people intersecting his life. The journeys take place years apart, with him as the only connecting thread. In the three stories he is alternately a follower, a lover and a guardian, and we hear the stories from the man he would become, who is looking at him years hence, reliving the three journeys from a dis
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa
Unobtrusive words, nothing fancy or overworked, no backflips or showiness. The effect however is heart wrenching. Damon Galgut surgically cuts to the vital. And leaves you gasping for air.

There was some discussion when this book made the Booker shortlist in 2010. Is it a novel? Not in any conventional sense, no. Three accounts of journeys undertaken by a character called Damon, referred to in the third person mostly. Galgut is ready to admit that this is indeed himself, and that the events depi
Ron Charles
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: guys-wandering
I'm weary of dreary.

I know it's an act of book reviewing apostasy, but I've had it with the exquisitely crafted sighs of depressed men. And that's not just the eggnog talking. Honestly, how many times do we have to praise the stark story of a wandering, alienated man that Hemingway perfected in "The Sun Also Rises" way back in 1926?

Every year adds two or three "haunting masterpieces" to this respected subgenre. This year's top entries included Joshua Ferris's grave "The Unnamed," Dinaw Mengestu'
Roger Brunyate
The Space Between the Lines

Open any page of Galgut's 2010 novel, and you will see that, instead of being set close together as is the usual practice, there is a full line of white space between paragraphs, giving a curiously open look to the page. And where the page consists mostly of dialogue, without even quotation marks or the "he said, she said" indicators, the effect is both striking and curiously unsettling, as though there is nothing to root the book in reality or link its parts together.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: ·Karen·
I don't know if it's something in me or something in the book that makes me think of its title as "In a Dark Room," which is not like me at all, as I'm a stickler for exact titles. There is much darkness here, but the work is focused on the 'strange' (not familiar) 'rooms' (not literal) the writer/character finds himself in as he travels excessively and obsessively, it sometimes seems.

This is a hybrid sort of book. It's listed as fiction, but the author names his character Damon and uses both 'I
I read this while travelling and the unfamiliar surroundings, the new vistas, the waking up in a strange room added an extra dimension to this already challenging reading experience. Galgut steps outside the conventions. Not for him the adherence to a plot or the limiting of himself to details related to that plot. He writes life as she is lived. The three interlinked accounts in this novel seem as aimless as the journeys undertaken by the main character, who is mostly referred to simply as 'he' ...more
Sep 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are certain writers one discovers, whose works one reads, consumes, as if they were writing directly to you, for you. Damon Galgut is such an author for me. This is the fourth novel (a trio of novellas, actually) I've read by him, and it's the most intensely personal, and (perhaps along with 'The Good Doctor,') the most beautiful and harrowing.
You can find other reviews to tell you plot, etc. I'll say simply that Galgut is one of the most authentic and significant novelists writing today.
How do you sit down and write a review for a book that deep down you know not just speaks for you but in its own strange way represents you ? Yes! represents you, or whatever that is you. You don't, you can't. You sit and close your eyes and let all the thoughts the book evoked within you turn inside your head, one after another like waves crashing on the shore. Some day when the stirring has settled, I will write. I know I will.

For now, all I can say is just that this book has been written make
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a novel that's really made up of three disconcerting novellas. The stories are not dependent on each other but they are very consistent and stubborn in theme: Isolation, chance encounters and the inability to strike meaningful, lasting relationships, pointless journeys that resolve nothing, of being out of place.

The prose is wonderful: Elegant, tight and minimalist. There's nothing awkward or ungainly to be found here. It reminds me a lot of Coetzee at his best. Throughout the novel Gal
Brian Murray
Sep 07, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Emotionally stunted South African male travels the world and has frustrating, horrible and pointless experiences. Pretty much a waste of 180 pages of perfectly good paper.
Feb 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-lit

‘Was I completely mad? How could I have thought to buy a book just like that – in such a frivilous, impetuous way – without checking to see that at least thirty of my Goodreads friends had given it the thumbs up?’

Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-reviews
Damon Gadget’s In a Strange Room is a lush, hypnotic novel that explores longing and desire through the prism of travel.

Divided into three seemingly unrelated parts — The Follower, The Lover and The Guardian — it merges in the reader’s mind to form a seamless whole.

If you’ve ever gone travelling/backpacking, felt alienated or not known what you want from life, it will resonate.

To read my review in full, please visit my blog.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The title is from William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying: “In a strange room you must empty yourself for sleep. And before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are emptied for sleep, you are not. And when you are filled with sleep, you never were.”

That tile is not a coincidence, because in profound ways, parts of the narrator feel as if they’re gasping for air. Damon Galgut’s hauntingly conceived and elegantly written book is about the fluidity of identity. In three interwoven secti
Jeff Jackson
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A friend described this as a mashup of Dennis Cooper and Michael Ondaatje - which isn't a bad description. This triptych of stories features men and women traversing remote landscapes, offering wholly unexpected revelations of desire, friendship, tourism, suicide, and love. It's written in compressed prose and a shifting narrative voice that's disorienting at first but feels increasingly purposeful as the book unfolds. Surprised it isn't better known. ...more
Ben Winch
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book and Damon Galgut is a brave, committed writer. Committed? It takes commitment to lay yourself bare, without self-pity, without shame, without apology. Nothing is wasted here; there is no wallowing. Perhaps owing to the simple innovation of the form (a trilogy - or better, tryptich - of short novellas, each recounting a journey), there is little need for scene-setting or back-story. Galgut's alter-ego/protagonist exists only when he's traveling, never sinking into routine ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, 2016
I read New Finnish Grammar followed by The Names and they were connected by being about language and words. Then I read this and it links with The Names by being about travel. I can feel a new game coming on! In fact, this book, which is actually three short stories set in three different parts of the world, contains some wonderful travel writing: it is worth reading just for the way it evokes a sense of place.

But it is also worth reading for so many more reasons. Firstly, the writing is wonderf
Mar 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Part travelogue, part psychologically deconstructive journey, In A Strange Room kept me at arm’s length for almost the entirety of its 180 pages. Structured as three mid-length stories strung together loosely as a novella, the most pressing thought I’m left with is that the book lacked focus—both on a macro and micro level, as none of the tales, independent of the whole, came together with any level of clarity beyond the objective curiosity they first inspire.

The three sections—“The Follower,” “
Larry H
Damon, the narrator of Damon Galgut's beautiful yet spare In a Strange Room, can't seem to settle down. Every time he finds himself settling into a place, he is struck by the somewhat inexplicable need to roam. Perhaps this quote says it best: "There is a moment when any real journey begins. Sometimes it happens as you leave your house, sometimes it's a long way from home."

The book follows Damon on three separate journies, which are three separate chapters. In the first, he meets up with German
Friederike Knabe
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: africa, african-lit
"Travel makes one a stranger..." this African proverb may well apply to Damon Galgut's protagonist in his 2010 novel, In a Strange Room . "Too much travelling and placelessness have put him outside everything..." the protagonist admits. Later, he muses, he is not "a traveller by nature, it is a state that has been forced on him by circumstance... He is only passing through."

But is he really only "passing through"? Galgut's central character, also named Damon, travels widely and extensively:
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Germaine Greer on a review programme that was looking at the Booker short listed novels complained that in this book there is little about the countries visited, even though it is a kind of travel book, more about the state of the mind of its main protagonist, a figure that slips from third person to first, sometimes in the course of a sentence, and is called 'Damon'. What struck her is its solipsism. She has a point. Often it is the gaps between destinations, the ennui of this type of travel (A ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut. Wow. The book centers on a fictional character, yet Galgut refers to him as both 'he' and 'I' at various points in the text, making it feel like it's really not fiction at all, but rather autobiographical. It also makes you feel close to the main character, then very far away, & back again. He also doesn't use traditional punctuation (i.e., quotes, question marks), but it fits perfectly w/ the flow of his narrative.

The prose seems simple enough, tell
Aug 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
I'm really losing my hope on Man Booker books, especially of the year 2010. One more disappointment was this one, the most boring book I've read about travelling.

Frankly, Mr. Galgut thinks we would feel sorry about his main character Damon and his travelling experiences. I can't even say adventures.

But I really despise characters, especially male characters who feel depressed and not connected to this world for no apparent reason. They don't make me feel pity, they make me feel anger. All I wan
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sad, and sadly familiar. A great, melancholy novel of loneliness and the inability to connect meaningfully with others.
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Why did I wait so long to read this book? Loved it!
Ana-Maria Petre
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
There's a really quaint little independent bookshop here in Dublin called "The Secret Book and Record Store". A lovely underground counterculture book nook with old-timey background music and all sorts of non-mainstream little gems of literature and old records. Very atmospheric.

Anyway, so I was browsing the store and I found "In A Strange Room", by Damon Galgut. It was one of my to-read books which I hadn't yet lost interest in, and a pretty rare find, so I took it as a divine omen and bought
Jim Elkins
Lack of Imagination, which Turns Fiction into Reporting

This is not a novel. I am amazed and depressed that this made it onto the Man Booker list.

Novels are supposed to be acts of imagination. This is barely papered-over reportage. There are entire pages that seem to exist simply because the author couldn't think of anything except what actually happened. (For example, the revelation, in the second story, that tourists profit from poverty.) The stories parade fragmentation and apparent disorder a
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing book. The words are poetry. The sentences are magic carpets of words that take the reader from one thought to the next...many times leaving disturbing feelings and images behind. This is what I call “raw” writing. From the heart, with emotion, with great sensitivity. I read this book ever so slowly so that I could savour every moment I spent within the pages. I love the way Damon Galgut writes. I love the way he makes me think as I’m reading. Haunting...unsettling...unforgetta ...more
Jim Coughenour
A solipsistic travel diary. A pointless confession of loneliness, estrangement and helplessness. On its back cover, the label "Fiction." This book is somewhere beyond the usual categories. At first it reminded me of Duncan Fallowell's strange, haunted One Hot Summer in St. Petersburg, and then it didn't remind me of anything at all except being alone.

Damon Galgut divides his book into three sections, from the existentialist obsession of "The Follower," through the mournful picaresque of "The Lov
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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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Here’s some trivia for your next vacation get-together: The concept of the summer “beach read” book goes all the way back to the Victorian...
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“If I had done this, if I had said that, in the end you are always more tormented by what you didn't do than what you did, actions already performed can always be rationalized in time, the neglected deed might have changed the world.” 33 likes
“A journey is a gesture inscribed in space, it vanishes even as it's made. You go from one place to another place, and on to somewhere else again, and already behind you there is no trace that you were ever there.” 17 likes
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