Damon Galgut and Nosizwe Lise Baqwa
Damon Galgut’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Promise follows the white South-African Swart family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The story follows the nuclear family through the waning years of the apartheid state, through the 1994 liberation and until the children are grown, close to our time.
The core of the story is the promise given to the mother, Rachel, by her husband on her death bed: That their black maid, Salome, living in a small annexe on the property, will be given the deeds to this annexe. Shortly after Rachel’s death, though, this promise is all but forgotten, and when the youngest child, Amor, regularly brings up the subject, there is always a reason to postpone. After all, Salome is living there anyway, with everything that she needs, so what’s the rush?
Galgut’s story glides through the decades of South Africa’s recent history, weaving in and out between the various family members, often changing the perspective mid-sentence from one to another, or to the mildly sarcastic narrator. It is a story about a family’s decline, and about how life largely continues unchanged for the white minority in South-Africa.
Damon Galgut is the author of a number of award winning novels and plays, including The Good Doctor, Arctic Summer and In a Strange Room.
At the House of Literature, he is joined by political scientist and artist Nosizwe Lise Baqwa for a conversation about broken promises and a white, South-African family in decline.
The conversation will be in English.