Tanuj Solanki's Reviews > The Good Doctor

The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut
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's review
Oct 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: library, south-africa, post-colonial, booker, impac
Read from October 03 to 14, 2011

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 both are confronted with a character that they just can't seem to communicate with - David's daughter in the case of "Disgrace", and Laurence in the case of "The Good Doctor"

Some reviewers have called "The Good Doctor" the equal of "Disgrace". I am not convinced if it is necessary to place one novel above the other. While comparison is difficult to eschew, and Galgut does seem to have mirrored the earlier novel in many areas of structure and symbolism, a reader can certainly enjoy both works without hassling himself with the concern of finding the better one. Galgut's first person, past-tense prose is not as spare and chilly as Coetzee's third person, present-tense one, but it certainly explores the main character's conflicts deeper. In terms of restraint both writer are equal, both seeming to know exactly which events to give how many lines and words to. It can perhaps be argued that there are greater embellishments in Coetzee's novel, but it can very easily be understood as a compliment to Galgut's precision and persistence.

Recommended to all who like Coetzee.
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Reading Progress

10/11/2011 page 20
8.0% "Is in first person. But feels like Coetzee, though this could be an unnecessary association from my side. The craft is in how the action moves forward. Instantly suggests the core of the story... from the first page. Damon Galgut is a wily writer."
10/11/2011 page 29
12.0% "First of all, a personal apology to Damon Galgut, for comparing him with Coetzee at each page.

The Chapters aer short. In the third chapter, where Frank's relationship with a black woman strangely named Maria is described, reads almost like an allegory for the South Africa of today. It was certainly designed to mean something of this sort, but the ease of such association is very satisfying to the reader."
10/12/2011 page 74
31.0% "the writing slackens off in Chapters 4-6. We're subjected to, a bit excessively, snippets from the past of Frank - in whose voice the story unfolds. But Galgut spends almost 60-70% of his narrative energy there. So, what seemed beautiful in Chapter 3 becomes dull by Chapter 6, and the reader wishes for major progress in the plot now. Also, reviews have described Frank as cynical... I just ound him mature. Laurence??"
10/13/2011 page 170
71.0% "Couldn't stop reading the last night. Things kept moving at a nice place, some unexpected events took place, and interest was decently maintained. Galgut's structure and prose is beginning to remind me of Naipaul."
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