Damon Galgut is one of Africa’s most prolific writers and recently walked away with “the ultimate literature prize” in the world.
South African playwright and novelist, Damon Galgut, who wrote his first novel aged 17, received the honour of winning the prestigious 2021 Booker Prize Award. Galgut who been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize and won the award for his ninth book, The Promise which is most effectively encapsulated as a portrait of a white South African family navigating the the tumulus social conditions of South Africa over span of 40 years, most significantly focused on the period where the apartheid regime was gradually crumbling.
The narrative is told through the lens of four sequential funerals, each taking place in a different decade, The Promise follows the Swarts, a white South African family who live on a farm outside Pretoria. The promise of the title is one the Swarts make – and fail to keep over the years – to give a home and land to the black woman who worked for them her whole life.
Critics and bibliophiles alike have sung praises about the novelist’s latest offering labelling it as “a strong, unambiguous commentary on the history of South Africa and of humanity itself that can best be summed up in the question: does true justice exist in this world?”
The significance of Galgut winning the prestigious award lies far beyond the metric of undeniable talent, it marks a rather monumental achievement for the South African literary world at large. This years literature laureate is the third South African to win the fiction prize after novelist, essayist and linguist J.M. Coetzee who bagged two Booker Prize Awards for his novels Life & Times of Michael K (1983) and Disgrace (1999) and Nadine Gordimer who was the first South African prize recipient for her novel The Conservationist (1974).
Upon receiving the prize, Galgut said: “This has been a great year for African writing. I’d like to accept this on behalf of all the stories told and untold, the writers heard and unheard from the remarkable continent that I come from.” He added “I hope people will take African writing a little more seriously now.”
To top off the novelists significantly successful year, as of today, it has been announced that Damon Galgut’s The Promise is South Africa’s official Christmas Number One bestselling book of 2021.
— Nielsen Book (@NielsenBook) December 17, 2021
As one can imagine this is an achievement that many writers strive to achieve and is a benchmark of a well established reputation in the literary arts. There is much anticipation surrounding Galgut’s further plans on delivering yet another robust novel.