Booker Prize 2021: South African Novelist Damon Galgut wins Booker for his novel ‘The Promise’

Booker Prize 2021:  Damon Galgut's Booker Prize-winning novel 'The Promise' is a bleakly funny portrait of the Swart family who are the descendants of Dutch settlers and are desperately trying to hold onto their farm and status in post-apartheid South Africa.

2021 Booker Prize
2021 Booker Prize

Damon Galgut, a South African novelist, on November 3, 2021, won the 2021 Booker Prize for his novel ‘The Promise’. It was one of the six shortlisted novels for the Booker Prize and stood out for its artistry and scope.

The novelist who was shortlisted for two of his previous books received one of the most prestigious literary awards for his cutting depiction of a white family in a post-apartheid South Africa. Damon Galgut was also shortlisted twice before, in 2003 and 2010.

The Booker Prize 2021 judges announced Galgut the winner and praised his novel for its “unusual narrative style that balances the Faulknerian exuberance with Nabokovian precision, pushed boundaries, and is a testament to the flourishing of the novel in the 21st century.”

Damon Galgut’s ‘The Promise’ wins Booker Prize 2021

‘The Promise’, which is also Galgut’s ninth book, had already won acclaim among critics for its menacing and bleakly funny portrait of the Swart family. They are the descendants of Dutch settlers who are desperately trying to hold onto their farm and status in post-apartheid South Africa.

Who is Damon Galgut?

Damon Galgut is a South African playwright and novelist who has been awarded the 2021 Booker Prize for his novel ‘The Promise’.

Galgut wrote his first novel ‘A Sinless Season’ at the age of 17 in 1982.

After his work ‘The Good Doctor’ was published in 2003, Galgut became better known outside South Africa. It was the story of two contrasting characters in a remote, rural hospital in post-apartheid South Africa. Good Doctor was received enthusiastically by critics and was shortlisted for Booker Prize in 2003.

In 2010 Booker Prize, his novel ‘In a Strange Room’ was shortlisted for fiction.

By winning the 2021 Booker Prize for his novel ‘The Promise’, Galgut has become the third writer from South Africa to win the prize, following Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee, who has won twice.

2021 Booker Prize: American authors dominate the shortlist

American authors have once again dominated the shortlist of Booker Prize in 2021, accounting for three of the finalists. They were Richard Powers for ‘Bewilderment’, Patricia Lockwood for ‘No One is Talking About This’, and Maggie Shipstead for ‘Great Circle’.

The other authors shortlisted for Booker Prize 2021 were Anuk Arudpragasam for “A Passage North”. It is about a lingering trauma from his country’s Civil War. The another one was the British and Somali Novelist Nadifa Mohamed for ‘The Fortunate Men’, about a Somali man who has been falsely accused of murder in Wales.

Booker Prize

The Booker Prize is awarded manually to the best novel written in English and published in Ireland or Britain. The prize was selected in 2021 from 158 submitted novels.

In 2020, the Booker Prize went to Douglas Stuart for ‘Shuggie Bain’. It was his autobiographical debut novel which was about growing up in Scotland with an alcoholic mother.

Breaking the tradition in 2019, the literary prize was awarded jointly to Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

Booker Prize, since 2014, has been open to any novel written in English and published in Britain. Previously, it was limited to the writers from Ireland, Britain, Zimbabwe, and the Commonwealth.

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