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 promises; 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 — an atmosphere 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.
“The Promise is the most important book of the last ten years.”—Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story and A Saint from Texas
“The Promise’s power and immediacy merge to create an outstanding novel of its time.”—Joan Bakewell, author of All the Nice Girls and The Centre of the Bed
“The Promise recalls the great achievements of modernism in its imagistic brilliance, its caustic disenchantment, its relentless research into the human. For formal innovation and moral seriousness, Damon Galgut is very nearly without peer. He is an essential writer.”—Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You
“Both tender and brutal, The Promise brilliantly illuminates how both a small family and a large world endure - or don't endure. I will remember this beautifully devastating book, its enigmatic heroine, for a long time.” — Peter Cameron, author of What Happens at Night
“Galgut understands the complexities of the human heart which he reveals with the finest delicacy. This is an emotionally powerful and thrilling novel that haunts one long after it has been laid down.” —Gabriel Byrne, author of Walking With Ghosts and Pictures in My Head
“If possible, The Promise packs yet more of a punch than Galgut’s previous novels. Fuelled by sex and death, this is a South African Götterdämmerung charting a white family’s inexorable decline from significance and power. Its indignation at its morally bankrupt central characters is leavened with languid comedy, as though Galgut had collaborated with Tennessee Williams. The effect is utterly compelling.”—Patrick Gale, author of Notes from an Exhibition and A Place Called Winter
“If there is a posterity, Galgut will be seen as one of the great literary triumphs of South Africa’s transition… in every way the equal of J. M. Coetzee”—Rian Malan, author of My Traitor’s Heart
Damon Galgut’s 2003 novel The Good Doctor won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region) and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In a Strange Room (Europa, 2010) was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2013, Galgut was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa.