10th May 2022 – The Promise by Damon Galgut

A masterpiece of a family in crisis from twice Booker-shortlisted author Damon Galgut. Winner of the Booker Prize 2021 and shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2022.

Set during four funerals across four decades, Galgut’s panoramic study of one white South African family’s tribulations foregrounds the intimately personal in the epic narrative of a rapidly changing nation.

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.

The narrator’s eye shifts and blinks: moving fluidly between characters, flying into their dreams; deliciously lethal in its observation. And as the country moves from old deep divisions to its new so-called fairer society, the lost promise of more than just one family hovers behind the novel’s title.

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.

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