The New Yorker: "Beneath Damon's physical anxieties churns a search for identity and a desire to shed 'all the ballast of familiar life.'"
Date: Nov 1 2010
In this enigmatic novel, a South African writer named Damon travels through East Africa, Switzerland, and India, amid troubled landscapes and troubled people. "Myth always has some fact in it," Galgut says early on, hinting that protagonist and author may share more than a name. The story unfolds in three discrete sections--the Follower, the Lover, and the Guardian--as Damon struggles to connect with those he meets. He has "a defect in his nature that travel has turned into a condition," and his eye is continually drawn to "tiny threatening details": shoe prints on a floor, a cracked brick wall, the blisters on his feet. Beneath Damon's physical anxieties churns a search for identity and a desire to shed "all the ballast of familiar life." Yet the quest is futile, since travel seldom offers what can't be found within.