South African novelist and playwright Damon Galgate won the prestigious British Booker Prize on Wednesday evening for his novel “The Promise”, which deals with the theme of apartheid in South Africa.
The name of the award winner was announced during a party broadcast by the BBC and attended by all the finalists in person, unlike last year’s version, which was held via video due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Booker committee chair historian Maya Yasanov said the choice was “difficult”, but “after many conversations we reached a consensus on the book” due to its “amazing originality and smoothness”.
She described the book “The Promise” as “dense, with historical and allegorical overtones.”
The winning writer indicated that he would accept this award “for all stories told and those not told”, and for writers known or unknown “from the remarkable continent to which I belong”.
Set in the period between the end of apartheid and the presidency of Jacob Zuma, “The Promise” depicts the gradual dissolution of a white family from Pretoria as the country progresses down the path to democracy.
“I am very humbled and grateful,” said Galgit (57 years), who qualified for the third time to the finals of the award, after receiving the prestigious literary award.
His novel was described by The New Yorker as “remarkable”, while the South African Sunday Times said it was “surprising to see how much history Gallagt has managed to put into this short novel”.
The award is accompanied by a financial reward of 50,000 pounds ($68,000) and guarantees the winner international fame and commercial success in bookstores.
The list of the six finalists was divided equally between the sexes, and included three American novelists: Patricia Lockwood, 39, for her first novel, “No One Is Talking About This,” Richard Powers, 64, for his book “Biowilderment” and Maggie Shipstead. (38 years), for “Great Circle”, in addition to the Somali-British, Nafiya Mohamed (40 years), for “The Fortune Men” and Sri Lankan Anuk Arudbragasam, 33, for “A Passage North”.
The five members of the Booker Prize Committee selected the six novels from among 158 novels published in Britain or Ireland between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.
The prize was awarded last year to Scotsman Douglas Stewart for his first novel “Shaggy Bean”, which revolves around a family of workers in Glasgow struggling with alcoholism and poverty in the early eighties of the last century.
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