The Promise by Damon Galgut

Recommended by Lisa Butler

Author: Damon Galgut

Form: Prose (family saga with an element of historical fiction)

Length: 231 pages

Brief synopsis: The Promise is about the Swarts, a privileged white Afrikaner family, living on a farm outside of Pretoria. It charts their downfall over a period of some 40 years. The titular promise, which is broken almost as soon as it has been uttered, revolves around Salome, the family’s faithful black housekeeper, who is supposed to inherit the house in which she lives and the land upon which it stands when Rachel Swart dies. But it is never fulfilled.

Age recommendation and challenging content: Some themes include racism and religion. There is also suicide. Recommended for Year 11 or KS5.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: Interesting and engaging historical context -South Africa from the 80s to roughly present day. A really unique narrative style. The prose is light and fluid and joyous to read; the ever-changing multiple viewpoints provides the flavour of this accomplished novel. And while the overall subject matter is weighty, the humorous one-liners and funny commentary lighten the mood. Excellent characterisation and beautiful descriptions.

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