Galgut was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1963. His family, of European stock, had strong ties to the South African judiciary. When he was six years old, Galgut was diagnosed with cancer, a trauma which he has described as "the central, cataclysmic event of my life". He fell very ill, and spent long stretches of his childhood in hospital. His love of storytelling developed at this time as he lay convalescing in his hospital bed, listening to relatives reading stories to him.
Galgut studied drama at the University of Cape Town. He was only 17 when his debut novel, A Sinless Season, was published. His battle with cancer was given fictional form in his next book, a collection of short stories called Small Circle of Beings (1988). The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs (1991) won the CNA Prize, South Africa’s leading literary award. The Quarry (1995) was made into a feature film, which went on to win prizes on the international film festival circuit.
However, it was not until the publication of The Good Doctor in 2003 that Galgut reached a far wider readership. The story of two contrasting characters in a remote, rural hospital in post-apartheid South Africa, The Good Doctor was enthusiastically received by critics. It was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize in 2003 and also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book from the Africa Region.
Galgut has written a number of plays and has taught drama at the University of Cape Town. He has been a resident of Cape Town since the early 1990s. He is a keen traveller and, in fact, wrote much of The Good Doctor in a hotel in Goa. He describes himself as "obsessed" with yoga, and owns neither a car nor a television.
His newest novel, In a Strange Room, was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction. The Guardian reviewer was impressed stating; "I doubt if any book in 2010 will contain more memorable evocations of place than In a Strange Room." The review continued to describe it as a "beautiful" book that is "strikingly conceived and hauntingly written."
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Europa Editions; 1 edition (October 13, 2010)
Amazon: In a Strange Room
Amazon Kindle: In a Strange Room
A finalist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize
In this newest novel from South African writer Damon Galgut, a young loner travels across eastern Africa, Europe, and India. Unsure what he's after, and reluctant to return home, he follows the paths of travelers he meets along the way. Treated as a lover, a follower, a guardian, each new encounter-with an enigmatic stranger, a group of careless backpackers, a woman on the verge-leads him closer to confronting his own identity. Traversing the quiet of wilderness and the frenzy of border crossings, every new direction is tinged with surmounting mourning, as he is propelled toward a tragic conclusion.
In a Strange Room is a brilliant, stylish novel of anger and compassion, longing and thwarted desire, and a hauntingly beautiful evocation of life on the road. First published in The Paris Review in three parts, one of which was selected for a National Magazine Award, and another for the O. Henry Prize, In a Strange Room was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize.
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