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12 November 1963 |
Pretoria, South Africa
Life and career
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 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."
- A Sinless Season
- Small Circle of Beings
- The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs (1992 CNA Award)
- The Quarry (Best Film 1998 Montreal Film Festival)
- The Good Doctor (IMPAC)
- The Impostor
- In a Strange Room
- Arctic Summer
- Echoes of Angers
- Party for Mother
- Alive and Kicking
- The Green’s Keeper
- Damon Galgut talks about The Good Doctor on the BBC's World Book Club
- 'Everything is politics, but is everything allegory?', review of The Good Doctor in the Oxonian Review