In A Strange Room – Damon Galgut

in a strange roomREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

A South African writer named for the author goes backpacking abroad.

A young man, named for the author, undertakes three journeys to different countries where he meets and enjoys the company of strangers, but seems to attract bad luck.

In Part I, titled The Follower, he travels to Greece and meets a fellow walker. They become friends and decide to tackle a walking trip together in South Africa. However, tensions arise in their contrasting personality types.

Part II is called The Lover and is set in Africa. In it, Damon, the protagonist,  meets three European backpackers. Though he tries to avoid them he crosses paths with them several times before falling for one of them. He is then unable to decide whether he should continue to avoid them or attach himself to the group and follow the potential love interest.

In the final part, Damon accompanies a friend to India where he is entrusted with her care for her mental health is unsettled. In this section he is The Guardian, but struggles to live up to his caretaker role.

The man’s actions are deliberate and thoughtful and detail his search for both meaning, for love and a place to call home. Adding to the mystery about whether the book is autobiographical or a unique type of fiction, is the dual point of views that sometimes change within a sentence.

 In A Strange Room challenges genre stereotypes and we both felt we were being rewarded for reading the text more attentively than usual. It is an intellectual book that blurs the lines between fact and fiction that provided far more enjoyment than simply a moment of escapism.

Published 2010
256 pages

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