**WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE 2021**
'A tour de force... A spectacular demonstration of how the novel can make us see and think afresh' Booker Judges 2021
Discover the powerful prizewinning story of a family in crisis.
The Promise charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma's funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for - not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land... yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.
In this story of a diminished family, sharp and tender emotional truths hit home. Confident, deft and quietly powerful, The Promise is literary fiction at its finest.
'Damon Galgut is the most worthy winner of the Booker Prize we've seen for many years...The book trembles in the hand with its political relevance' Rose Tremain, New Statesman
** A NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR 2021 AND ONE OF THE DAILY TELEGRAPH'S 75 BEST BOOKS OF 2021**
'Astonishing' Colm Tóibín
'A masterpiece - one of the best books I have read in the past decade... A moving, brilliantly told family epic' Elizabeth Day
'This is so obviously one of the best novels of the year' The Times
'Utterly compelling' Patrick Gale
'Gorgeous and pleasurable' Tessa Hadley
Stunning . . . Galgut deploys every trick in the book; he's heart-swellingly attentive to emotional complexity . . .
Galgut seems to deliver effortlessly...there's nothing he can't do... [his] style is quiet but the book feels bursting with life because of all the of all the off-page, between-times details he hints at... This is so obviously one of the best novels of the year... a book that answers the question "what is a novel for?" With a simple: "This!"
The Promise functions as a spare but thoroughly satisfying parable, the decline of the Swarts into moral degeneracy and death tracing the forsaken promises of the post-apartheid era, from early hope to the contemporary realities of corruption and racial enmity . . . [a] magisterial, heart-stopping novel
A complex, ambitious and brilliant work - one that provides Galgut's fullest exploration yet of the poisonous legacy of apartheid . . . Galgut describes his characters with rare assurance and skill, conjuring them to life in a narrative voice that moves restlessly from character to character . . . Rarely have I had such a strong sense, while reading a novel, that I myself was there, in the room with the characters
The Promise is fully rooted in contemporary South Africa, but the novel's weather moves into the elemental while attending also to the daily, the detailed and the personal. The book is close to a folktale or the retelling of a myth about fate and loss, about three siblings and land, a promise made and broken. The story has an astonishing sense of depth, as though the characters were imagined over time, with slow tender care
Damon Galgut's The Promise is about an unfulfilled but promising life and about the repeatedly broken promises by a white family to a black household worker. With unostentatious virtuosity Galgut - one of the world's great writers - enters the minds of all his characters, rich or poor, white or black, male or female, even the thoughts of a homeless man beset by visions. The language has a Flaubertian clarity and the intimate knowledge of the family is matched by an authoritative understanding of South Africa's complex history. This is the most important book of the last ten years
Remarkable . . . The Promise suggests that the demands of history and the answering cry of the novel can still powerfully converge . . . the novel's beautifully peculiar narration aerates and complicates this fatal family fable, and turns plot into deep meditation . . . Galgut is wonderfully, Woolfianly adept at moving quickly between characters' thoughts
The Promise is a gorgeous and pleasurable novel, with an imaginative heft to match Galgut's fellow South African writers Gordimer, Coetzee and Brink. It's richly evocative of the land and its people, and reports on a new South Africa without fake moralising; it made me laugh, too. Dreamlike yet so solidly well-made, The Promise has lived on inside my head, unsettling and troubling me
The Promise by Damon Galgut is a masterpiece - one of the best books I have read in the past decade and definitely my book of the year so far. Galgut is a master of the form. His free-flowing prose moves effortlessly from inside one character's head to another and displays a wealth of compassion and insight from multiple perspectives. This novel is a moving, brilliantly-told family epic with political resonance which also manages in parts to be darkly comic. Phenomenally good
Superbly narrated, Galgut's book combines state-of-the-nation novel . . . with something like allegory or even Christian parable
The Promise, winner of the Booker Prize 2021, is Damon Galgut’s quietly powerful story of a family, a country, and the failed promises that destroy them both. Read the first chapter here.
The author of the 2021 Booker Prize-winning novel The Promise on how cinema, theatre, and language all coalesced in his novel’s account of a white South African family’s downfall.