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“Like most elements of this slim, absorbing novel set in post-apartheid South Africa, the title is ambiguous. The narrator, Frank, is a doctor, but, to judge from our first impression, not a good one. . . . The novel shrewdly introduces thriller-like devices. . . . Galgut spins a brisk and bracing story, but he’s also in pursuit of something murkier: the double-edged nature of doing good in a land where ‘the past has only just happened.’” The New Yorker
The Good Doctor
978-0-8021-4169-9 • $14.00 • Paperback • Oct. 2004
A taut, intense tale of the dashed hopes of the post-apartheid era and the small betrayals that doom a friendship
A finalist for the Man Booker Prize, The Good Doctor is a taut, intense tale of the dashed hopes of the postapartheid era and the small betrayals that doom a friendship. It has been greeted with enthusiastic interest around the world and assures Damon Galgut’s place as a major international talent.
When Laurence Waters arrives at his new post at a deserted rural hospital, staff physician Frank Eloff is instantly suspicious. Laurence is young, optimistic, and full of big ideaseverything Frank, hardened and embittered by years of irrelevancy and disappointment in the “bush,” is not. Frank watches with a mixture of bemusement and irritation as Laurence sets about trying to bring the hospital and its diffident staff back to life.
The whole town is beset with new arrivals and the return of old faces. Frank reestablishes a secret romantic liaison with a local woman, one that will have unexpected consequences for him, for her, and even for Laurence. The Brigadier, an African who shaped himself into a local dictator during apartheid days, is rumored to be back in town, and active in cross-border smuggling. A group of soldiers has moved in to track him, and to close the borders, led by a man from Frank’s own dark past. Laurence sees only possibilitiesbut in a world where the past is demanding restitution from the present, his ill-starred idealism cannot last. When the final denouement comes, who will make the cynical choice, and who the moral one?
The Good Doctor is a sparkling, highly accomplished piece of fiction that casts an unsparing eye on the “new” South Africa and on the deceptions and self-deceptions that crawl under the surface of the human struggle to do what is right.
The novel has now been sold to highly prestigious houses in sixteen countries