Encounters outside of time
8 9 2022
Encounters outside of time

An exploration of distance, context and the essence of human connections

Today in Mantova, in Piazza Castello, within the walls of the Palazzo Ducale, we find South African writer Damon Galgut presenting his novel The Good Doctor with the help of Neapolitan novelist Valeria Parrella, who first accompanies the audience through the book. She describes it as similar to The Desert of the Tartars, presenting a non-place, where all the characters are stranded.

Although newly released in Italy, this novel was written almost 20 years ago now, and is an excellent metaphor for the issues that South African literature faced after apartheid ended, and its strong principles in both educating and activating white moral conscience around racial issues are perhaps no longer as relevant as they once were.


The cynical, older narrator and the younger, naïve one in Galgut’s novel are his way of representing this new dialogue between old and new. Galgut explains that even though political power had been ceded, economic power had not, and so the people of South Africa were each in the same position as they were during apartheid. He highlights this through his novel as he tries to convey how there is no choice in one’s birth, and in the same way, there is also no choice in one’s future.

Parrella then explains that the novel concerns anyone who doesn't know where they are; it is a book on identity, and consequentially, non-identity. Galgut is fascinated by trying to describe what is left of a person once the historical context has been stripped down, how to capture the moments of human connection outside of time. Connections that bridge across class, race and language to connect us to each other in a deep way remain desirable but can only exist in love, poetry and creative work, if at all.

Il sito è stato realizzato nell’ambito del progetto Open Festival con il contributo di
INNOVACULTURA - Regione Lombardia, Camere di Commercio Lombarde e Fondazione Cariplo