Richard's generation do not see themselves as tourists - they are travellers who like to go to dangerous places. When Richard flies to Thailand, he learns of the mysterious beach from a man who subsequently commits suicide. Teaming up with a young French couple he sets off to find it.
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In our ever-shrinking world, where popular Western culture seems to have infected every nation on the planet, it is hard to find even a small niche of unspoiled land--forget searching for pristine islands or continents. This is the situation in Alex Garland's debut novel, The Beach. Human progress has reduced Eden to a secret little beach near Thailand. In the tradition of grand adventure novels, Richard, a rootless traveller rambling around Thailand on his way somewhere else, is given a hand-drawn map by a madman who calls himself Daffy Duck. He and two French travellers set out on a journey to find this paradise.
What makes this a truly satisfying novel is the number of levels on which it operates. On the surface it's a fast-paced adventure novel; at another level it explores why we search for these utopias, be they mysterious lost continents or small island communes. Garland weaves a gripping and thought-provoking narrative that suggests we are, in fact, such products of our Western culture that we cannot help but pollute and ultimately destroy the very sanctuary we seek. --Amazon.comReview:
"A furiously intelligent first novel about backpacker culture in Southeast Asia, a book that moves with the kind of speed and grace many older writers can only day-dream about. Just as impressively, Garland has written what may be the first novel about the search for genuine experience among members of the so-called X Generation that's not snide or reflexively cynical. I suspect many young readers will be deeply grateful for this British novelist's levelheaded observations and will clutch this book tightly to their chests. (Look for tattered copies of The Beach tucked into backpacks across the world next summer, right next to the de rigeur Lonely Planet guidebooks.) The rest of us will just be happy to tag along for the ride. The Beach combines an unlikely group of influences--The Heart of Darkness, Vietnam war movies, The Lord of the Flies, the Super Mario Brothers video game....The Beach is ambitious, propulsive fiction." --The Washington Post
"What makes The Beach a truly awesome piece of work is Garland's understated, assured depiction of the perils of pop...Is The Beach a Gen X novel? I concede to the marketing people on this one and depart here, cowed." --The Village Voice
"You have in your hands one great book...The Beach will astonish readers.Garland manages to hook in the reader from the first page...The Beach builds to a crackling finale, complete with interesting moral questions.Not since reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History has this reader been so impressed and taken with a first novel."--USA Today
"Generation X has its first great novel...The Beach is an awesome first novel that works as an adventure story, an allegory and an explanation for why every human since Adam and Eve has an irresistible impulse to create a perfect world and destroy it. Garland's literary antecedents are Lord of the Flies and On the Road, with maybe a little Animal Farm thrown in for extra nastiness, and it is a testament to his a
"A book that moves with the kind of speed and grace many older writers can only day-dream about. The Beach is ambitious, propulsive fiction." --The Washington Post
"What makes The Beach a truly awesome piece of work is Garland's understated, assured depiction of the perils of pop." --The Village Voice
"The Beach will astonish readers... Not since reading Donna Tartt's The Secret History has this reader been so impressed and taken with a first novel." --USA Today
"The Beach is an awesome first novel that works as an adventure story, an allegory and an explanation for why every human since Adam and Eve has an irresistible impulse to create a perfect world and destroy it. A wonderful adventure and allegory that may be the best novel written by anyone currently younger than 30." --Sunday Oregonian
"Alex Garland... has a clear, engaging storytelling style and a vivid imagination. Deftly, he uses real-life travel details--smells, optical effects, quirks of language, social rituals--to keep the reader's disbelief at bay." --The New York Times Book Review
"Remarkable.... astonishingly assured.... The Beach is distinguished by Garland's bracingly transparent prose and tells a classic story of generational envy and displacement. A luminous voyage into the dark side of humanity's increasingly tenuous dreams of paradise." --Salon
"Generation X meets Lord of the Flies in this ripping good adventure yarn...Garland shows a precociously sure hand in this taut, exotic thriller. For a young author, he knows too well the peril of finding paradise on earth...a skillful first novel about the demise of an earthly paradise." --People
"[G]ripping, intelligent and written with a discipline many young writers only grow into." --New York Newsday
"The Beach makes for a relevant and fascinating read....an excellent critique of the backpacker phenomenon--its nouveau colonialism and its tragically misdirected idealism." --Time Out
"Garland's provocative style--somewhere between Joseph Conrad, Bret Easton Ellis, and Stephen King--creates a modern-day Eden where Nintendo Game-boy, "Apocalypse Now," and a drug-trafficking Thai militia blend seamlessly into the landscape." --Vogue
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