Cover South African author Damon Galgut poses with his book 'The Promise' (Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

After being shortlisted in 2003 and 2020, Damon Galgut finally takes home the Booker Prize with his novel The Promise

The Booker Prize 2021 has been awarded to South African playwright and novelist, Damon Galgut for his book The Promise. Maya Jasanoff, the chair of the 2021 judges made the announcement in a ceremony that was broadcast live. Dalgut was previously shortlisted in 2003 and 2010 and this year, finally took home the top prize.

His award-winning novel is set in South Africa, during the country’s transition out of apartheid. It follows a white family and explores the relationships between the members through the lens of four funerals. Galgut wrote his first book at the age of 17—The Promise is his ninth book and that first in seven years. “The original idea [for the book] came from a conversation with a friend, who’s the last surviving member of his family,” says Galgut.

Sri Lankan Tamil novelist Anuk Arudpragasam made the shortlist for his second book, A Passage North. Other authors who made the final six include debut novelist, Patricia Lockwood with No One is Talking About This, Damon Galgut making the list for the third time with The Promise and Richard Powers making the shortlist a second time with Bewilderment. Wrapping up the shortlist are Nadifa Mohamed’s The Fortune Men and Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle.

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“The book is structured around four funerals, each in a different decade, with a different president in power and a different spirit reigning over the land. Although most of that material is background, it conjures a sense of time passing, and of the larger country changing too,” says Galgut.

The Booker Prize is open to any nationality as long as their book has been published in the UK. Each shortlisted author receives GBP2,500 and a special bounded edition for their book while the winning author, Galgut receives GBP50,000.

Galgut will be speaking to Hong Kong audiences about his winning novel on November 11 as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival’s programme. For more details, please visit the official website.

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This article was originally published on July 30, 2021 and was updated on November 4, 2021.

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