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Late at night in a seedy hotel, Richard is drawn into a strange conversation with a fellow guest. Through a narrow strip of mosquito netting he hears for the first time of a secret beach, and island Garden of Eden hidden somewhere in the scattered islands of a Thai marine park. Next morning, Richard finds a map pinned to his door, and the man who put it there has slashed his wrists. The challenge is irresistible, and Richard sets off on a perilous journey in search of Shangri-La.
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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 gripping adventure, and a fascinating jigsaw (The Times)
Fresh, fast-paced, compulsive and clever (Nick Hornby)
A white-knuckle ride into the heart of darkness (Sunday Times)
Lord of the Flies and The Magus lurk at the roots of this novel, but Garland reshapes them with panache into something terrifyingly new (Mail on Sunday)
A mesmerising, knuckle-clenching read (Maxim)
Winningly compulsive, brilliantly conceived (Q)
Garland's prose is stunningly lucid. Addictive and compelling (Spectator)
A highly confident debut...this incisive novel may well come to be regarded as a defining text in the history of imaginative travel writing (Daily Telegraph)
Alex Garland is writing a brand new kind of adventure novel. His style is dangerously simple yet altogether captivating (Douglas Rushkoff)
An exceptional first novel...An action novel that provokes subtle responses, The Beach takes in ideas about man's inevitable progress from noble savage to social breakdown (and) the related tradition of nature versus art (The Times Literary Supplement)
Garland has written a powerful and frighteningly believable novel (Company)
Precise and speedy prose, with good old-fashioned romantic adventure spiced up with deadpan authorial irony (Guardian)
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