Set against the drawn-out dissolution of the Apartheid system and sense of rebirth that followed, this endlessly readable novel tracks the Swart family and their own trajectory of dissolution and possible rebirth after the death of Rachel, the family matriarch. Though third-person omniscient narration hasn’t been in vogue since Henry James, Galgut, who was twice nominated for the Booker Prize before winning it with this book in 2021, utilizes an off-kilter variety that somehow manages to be simultaneously expansive, intimate, and vaguely menacing.— Rico
Galgut’s first novel in 10 years shouldn’t have snuck up on me—he’s been twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Set in South Africa starting in 1986, this tells the story of an unkept promise made to a Black servant that shapes an Afrikaner family over three decades. It can be read as a family saga that doubles as a portrait of a country emerging from colonialism. Or read for its deft literary flourishes, like its slyly comic narrator. Or you can simply let Galgut’s considerable storytelling chops sneak up on you. — Ty Wilson, Publishers Group West— From Great Summer Reading Picks
WINNER OF THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE
A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE
A modern family saga written in gorgeous prose by three-time Booker Prize-shortlisted author Damon Galgut.
Haunted by an unmet promise, the Swart family loses touch after the death of their matriarch. Adrift, the lives of the three siblings move separately through the uncharted waters of South Africa; Anton, the golden boy who bitterly resents his life's unfulfilled potential; Astrid, whose beauty is her power; and the youngest, Amor, whose life is shaped by a nebulous feeling of guilt.
Reunited by four funerals over three decades, the dwindling family reflects the atmosphere of its country--one of resentment, renewal, and, ultimately, hope. The Promise is an epic drama that unfurls against the unrelenting march of national history, sure to please current fans and attract many new ones.
"Simply: you must read it."--Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine