Since it’s inception, the Booker Prize winner has rarely been the most obvious or popular choice, but a novel which frequently challenges the narrative form, often introducing daring vernacular, challenging subjects, complex structures and inventive use of voice. The 2021 Booker Prize winner, The Promise, is just such a selection. Through four funerals spaced over 30 years, Damon Galgut explores with nuance, humor and incisiveness, South Africa’s bloody, imperfect struggle from apartheid to fledgling democracy, as evidenced in the lives of one Afrikaner farming family, the Swarts. It’s astonishing how history pervades and influences this compact narrative, never overcoming or preaching to the complex relationships within. Stupefying, illuminating and satisfying.— Cheryl
WINNER OF THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE
On her deathbed, Rachel Swart makes a promise to Salome, the family's Black maid. This promise will divide the family--especially her children: Anton, the golden boy; Astrid, whose beauty is her power; and the youngest, Amor, whose life is shaped by feelings of guilt.
Reunited by four funerals over thirty years, the dwindling Swart family remains haunted by the unmet promise, just as their country is haunted by its own failures. The Promise is an epic South African drama that unfurls against the unrelenting march of history, sure to leave its readers transformed.
"Simply: you must read it."--Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine
★ "This tour-de-force unleashes a searing portrait of a damaged family and a troubled country in need of healing."--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)