The Beach (novel)

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{water, park, boat}
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{island, water, area}
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The Beach (1996) is a novel by Alex Garland about backpackers in Thailand. Influenced by such literary works as Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies, it describes the adventures of a young Englishman in search of and on a legendary, idyllic beach untouched by tourism.

Contents

Plot summary

In a cheap hostel on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Richard, a young English traveller, meets a strange Scotsman going by the pseudonym of Daffy Duck who leaves him a hand-drawn map of a supposed hidden beach located in the Gulf of Thailand that is inaccessible to tourists. After receiving the map, Richard discovers that Daffy has committed suicide. Together with a young and beautiful French couple, Étienne and Françoise, the trio sets out to find what they believe must be paradise on earth.

On their way to the beach, Richard gives a copy of the map to Sammy and Zeph, two American Harvard students he meets in Koh Samui. When the three travellers finally reach the beach - after bribing a local boat contractor, taking a long swim, trekking the dense jungle, avoiding the marijuana fields, and eventually jumping down a waterfall - they are faced with a tight-knit and largely self-sufficient community which has almost completely shut itself off from civilization and which has developed a sophisticated hierarchy under the quasi-dictatorial rule of a young American woman called Sal and her South African lover, Bugs, who, along with Daffy, discovered the beach and founded the community there in 1989. The three went under the pseudonyms of Sylvester (modified as "SALvester" and hence, Sal), Bugs (Bugs Bunny) and Daffy (Daffy Duck).

When Richard, Étienne, and Françoise arrive, it is already 1995, six years after the founders discovered the beach. Only a select few are chosen by the original founders to come to the island, and thus newcomers who were not given a personal invitation are not welcome, but are not sent away because to do so would jeopardize the secrecy of the community. Richard, Étienne, and Françoise manage to incorporate themselves into the island community and are quickly accepted because they tell the community about Daffy and his death back on the Thai mainland.

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