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Publisher's Summary

WINNER OF THE 2021 BOOKER PRIZE

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE

A modern family saga written in gorgeous prose by three-time Booker Prize-shortlisted author Damon Galgut.

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 potential; 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 - one 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.

“Simply: you must read it.” (Claire Messud, Harper’s Magazine)

©2021 Damon Galgut (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Galgut extends his extraordinary corpus with a rich story of family, history, and grief.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“This tour-de-force unleashes a searing portrait of a damaged family and a troubled country in need of healing.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

“Galgut’s compelling new novel blends characters and history and intricate themes to reveal the devastating impacts of white privilege and institutional racism.... The Promise is timely, relevant, and thematically significant.” (Booklist, starred review) 

What listeners say about The Promise

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent novel

I stumbled across an article that this South African (SA) novel had been awarded the Booker Prize - and having been born and lived in SA foe the first 27 years of my life, (born the same year as the author) decided it was worth upgrading my Audible membership to listen to it.

If you have ever lived in SA anytime over the last 65 years or so .. you will definitely find lots of “connections”. I have been living outside of SA for over 30 years, and had many “oh I remember that” moments.

The narrative and accents were true to form, and the stories, places and people were believable. An enjoyable read, but definitely one that needs concentration to keep up with the characters.

4 people found this helpful

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Awful

The writer relies heavily on excrement and other bodily fluids to create the mood. No thanks. I never ever give up on books. Here is a first.

2 people found this helpful

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Incredible!!

A book with a deceptively simple story that actually provides perspectives on so many aspects of life, both personal and societal, in South Africa and anywhere. A book that will stay with me forever. Genius. Pure genius.

1 person found this helpful

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Horrible voice-over.. hated the book on audio

Maybe it’s better if you read it? Main problem is there are no likable characters. There is one who is likable but she is presented in mother Teresa fashion.

1 person found this helpful

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Promise Broken

On the strength of a Booker Prize, this book promised to be exceptional, but was not. Each chapter felt unfinished and unsatisfying. The book ended abruptly and left me thinking "is that it?" And "who cares?"

1 person found this helpful

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Promises delivered

Galgut is heading into Coetzee territory . His language is pared down and bone dry ( save for the bodily fluids which aren’t for the precious ). The prose is as delineated as the landscape
I await his next book

1 person found this helpful

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Sheesh. So bleak.

Why do the award-winning books often have such weighty themes? Is it not ok to vote for a happy book? Nobody in this story has any hope or forward motion.

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Too much for too little

The author’s writing gimmicks were distracting and confusing for a meaningful portion of the book. The narration didn’t help with this either. Switching points of view and even talking directly to the reader was too cheeky at times. Once the narrative started to come through, it never fully emerged. I was left very disappointed by the lack of depth and substance in the story. And at times, I felt the author to be too sympathetic with the racist Afrikaaners than their black servants. Too minimizing of the black experience. There were no redeeming characters in the book - other than the maid. And her character only had a few words. I just don’t get it. But it did keep me listening and craving for more or for a deep revelation. Ultimately, I was more disappointed by the predictable and unimpressive ending. Maybe the literary tricks would be more satisfying if I read this book rather than listened to it. In the end, I don’t recommend this audiobook at all.

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The promise only partly delivers

Notable time and a family of characters that inhabit a place and time in South Africa. But ultimately we don’t really understand any of the characters or their motivations and how they are rocked by the times in which they lived. Well written and engaging.

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1 male narrator

Would be greatly improved if it had a female narrator as well
The male narrators female voice is very grating