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SA’s Damon Galgut shortlisted for The Booker Prize

Damon Galgut

Damon Galgut’s latest novel, The Promise, has been shortlisted for one of the world’s most prestigious literary prizes, the Booker Prize. The announcement was made during an online event on Tuesday evening.

Other shortlisted authors are debut novelist Patricia Lockwood with No One Is Talking About This, Richard Powers who makes his second shortlist appearance with Bewilderment, Anuk Arudpragasam for A Passage North, Nadifa Mohamed with The Fortune Men, and Maggie Shipstead with Great Circle. The winning book will be revealed on 3 November 2021.

Two other novels of Galgut, The Good Doctor, and In a Strange Room, have also previously been shortlisted for this prize, while fellow South African writer Karen Jennings made this year’s Booker Prize longlist for her novel An Island.

‘There’s a quiet, burning power in The Promise that takes your breath away; a book about land that can change the moral landscape of our country.’

Damon Galgut’s South African publisher, Fourie Botha
The Promise Damon Galgut

The Promise is the story of a family, but also of a country, over forty years. In four parts, each one centred on a family funeral in a different decade, the family fights over a piece of land outside Pretoria. In the background, a different president is in power, and a different spirit hangs over the country. At the core of this mesmerising and at times darkly humorous novel is a deathbed promise by a mother that was never kept – a promise overheard by her young daughter Amor.

Hailed in the press as one of the world’s finest writers, Galgut published his first novel at seventeen and since then his work has been translated into sixteen languages. Two films were made of his book The Quarry. Locally, his previous novel, Arctic Summer, was awarded the Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

Steve Connolly, CEO of Penguin Random House South Africa, says: ‘Damon Galgut has kept South African and international readers spellbound with his words for many years. Now, for the third time, his talent has been recognised by the Booker panel of judges by including him in the shortlist for 2021. The Promise takes us through the tensions, prejudices, lies and losses of an “ordinary” family. It is a typically powerful book that often makes you uncomfortable yet leaves you feeling buoyed by the sheer beauty of his prose. We are so proud of our long association with Damon as his South African publisher, and wish him luck for the final award.’

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