Why did I love this book?
Damon Galgut recently won the Booker Prize for his riveting, satirical The Promise, but, much as I admire that novel, Galgut’s earlier (also Booker-nominated) semi-autobiographical novel, In a Strange Room, remains my favourite. It comprises three long short stories, all centred on a character called Damon, alerting us to the autobiographical element of the stories. And yet Galgut resists the total identification of autobiography, partly by his device of switching disconcertingly between first and third-person narration (sometimes ‘Damon,’ sometimes ‘I’), and present and past tenses. But the novel is more than technical trickery: the shifting perspectives allow us different angles on the complex relationships depicted in the different sections, rather as a cubist painting affords us a multifarious perspective on its subject. And like other books on this list, this one features a protagonist who travels: something of a trope in South African writing.