Reads and Beats: The Good Doctor in New York

I made up the title above. I couldn’t resist it since the titles of my Reads and Beats series this week fit perfectly into each other and it makes sense.

Reads: The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut

I picked up this book at the university’s library because I was looking for something which I could finish in two weeks. What I really wanted to read was Amithav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace, but that book was too thick for me to be able to digest within such a short period of time. The phrase “shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and The Commonwealth Writers Prize” on the cover page helped me to make the decision.

I am not certain the exact location of the novel, but it is somewhere in Africa, in a hospital which is in a dilapidated condition and nobody really cares about it anymore. Frank is the older and seemingly angry doctor who is drained by the circumstances around him. The arrival of Laurence, a younger and ambitious doctor who has chosen to do his community service year in this very hospital unsettled Frank and this is where the story begins. Naturally, the story ended with the mysterious disappearance of Laurence. Hence, the whole story seem to take place simply because of the presence of Laurence in Frank’s life.

The story is written in a slow but sharp way. This is the kind of book which makes you think and ponder, and reflect upon your own life as you read through it. No matter that I have never set foot in Africa. Several lines in the book make me think on the following: who shapes our character, what happens to our hopes and dreams and overall, our human condition. Elements of politics, socio-economic and ethics are all intertwined in this book where betrayal exists in marriage and friendship, lives are nothing but commodities and survival is on a day-to-day basis.

If it has been a long time since you read a book that could tug at your heartstrings, this is the one. For a professional review, read the article by Christopher Hope in The Guardian.

Beats: New York by Alicia Keys

This is a good song after so long, after all the Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and the etc etc. This song reminds me to dream again, for some reason.


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