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The Beach

The Beach (1996) is a novel by Alex Garland[?] about backpackers in Thailand.

Table of contents

Critiques on The Beach

The Story

In a cheap guest-house Richard, a young Englishman, meets a mentally disturbed Scotsman called Duffy Duck who leaves him a hand-drawn map of some hidden beach inaccessible to tourists, and then commits suicide. Together with a young French couple, Etienne and Françoise, Richard, who considers himself a traveller rather than an ordinary tourist, goes and looks for what he believes must be paradise on earth.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers

On their way to the beach, Richard gives a copy of the map to Sammy and Zeph, two Americans he meets in Koh Samui[?]. When the group finally reaches the beach - after bribing a local boat contractor, taking a long swim and eventually jumping down a waterfall - they are faced with a tightly-knit self-sufficient[?] community which has almost completely shut itself off from civilization and which has developed a sophisticated hierarchy (or pecking order[?]) under the quasi-dictatorial rule of a middle-aged American woman called Sal and her lover. Newcomers are basically not welcome but are not sent back either because that would jeopardize the secrecy of the project.

After a few months the two Americans and three Germans arrive at the neighbouring island and Richard moves to the perimeter detail to watch them together with the group's guardian Jed, the only one who knows that Rich spread word about the beach.

Because of the free place in the fishing detail, one of the community called Keaty moves in and a few days later catches a dead squid which poisons most of the beach people. The day after only two of the fishing details are still in operation and the one consisting of three Swedes - who fish outside the safe lagoon - gets attacked by a shark, one fisher (Sten) dies on the same day, the second (Christo) a few days later and the third (Karl), who was not hurt by the shark, leaves the Beach by the only boat a week later. The wounded Swede requires Jed's presence in the camp and so Richard works alone on the island.

Being alone on the inner-island, Richard has even more day-dreams in which Duffy - the guy who gave him the map - appears and he feels being in a DMZ in Vietnam. Especially following the Americans/Germans when they land on the island and watching them being killed by the dope-guards, shows that Richard loses his sense for reality.

But not only Richard goes mad, also the other beach people who forced themselves to get back to normal life after the burial of Sten, ignore reality. Anger is filling their hearts and the upcoming Tet Feast - the Beach's birthday - will be a turning point.

In the end he and some others escape to the mainland and never see each other again.

Also read / view

The Beach was also turned into a successful film (2000) directed by Danny Boyle and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen. However, some major changes in the plot were made.

William Sutcliffe[?]'s novel Are You Experienced?[?] about young Britons travelling in India is a somewhat funnier account of backpacking.

See also

External links

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