The Promise by Damon Galgut

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A promise made by Pa to Ma when she is on her deathbed is not kept by Pa, and that failure is the underpinning of this multi-decade family story. Ma, Pa, Anton, Astrid, and Amor: parents and children. The book’s setting is post-apartheid Pretoria, South Africa, on a family farm. The Swart family is white and their long-time servant, Salome, is Black. Salome raised these children as though they were her own, and yet…

The writing is distinctive, spare, saying only what needs to be said. This novel won the 2021 Booker Prize. Galgut was shortlisted for the prize twice before, but I wasn’t familiar with him. The Booker Prize must have been the reason I put The Promise on my reading list. (I rarely remember why books are on my list, except those recommended in this blog! I surely do wish the library’s online system would provide a way to add a note in each record.)

The Promise is written in four sections: MA, PA, ASTRID, and ANTON. But where is AMOR? I’m shamefaced to say that I didn’t notice this until I finished the book.

I wouldn’t hesistate to read another Galgut novel!

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