Booker Prize Winner 2021

Today the Booker Prize winner for 2021 was announced from the shortlist of these six novels below:

Booker Prize Fiction Shortlist 2021

You can see all the titles and read mini descriptions of all the 13 novels that were longlisted here:

Having reread the entire shortlist three times the judges have decided:

The Winner

The Promise by South African writer Damon Galgut

The Promise Damon Galgut


The Promise charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for, not  least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land… yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled.

The narrator’s eye shifts and blinks: moving fluidly between characters, flying into their dreams; deliciously lethal in its observation. And as the country moves from old deep divisions to its new so-called fairer society, the lost promise of more than just one family hovers behind the novel’s title.

In this story of a diminished family, sharp and tender emotional truths hit home.

Judges Comment

In The Promise, Damon Galgut makes a strong, unambiguous commentary on the history of South Africa and of humanity itself that can best be summed up in the question: does true justice exist in this world? The novel’s way of tackling this question is what makes it an accomplishment and truly deserving of its place.

Another author I haven’t read, I might have to check it out! Have you read this or anything by Damon Galgut?

7 thoughts on “Booker Prize Winner 2021

  1. I absolutely loved this book and I’m so glad it won. I’ve read three others from the shortlist and this was by far my favourite. As soon as I finished I picked up his novel, The Good Doctor which I also really enjoyed.


    • It does sound like a rewarding read Claire and in the past I guess I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up books like this one and the Richard Power’s, which I did succumb to (and feel guilty for having done so).

      Because what rests top of mind for me, are those authors who don’t get the space or recognition, like Sindiwe Magona, whose two volumes of autobiography I read earlier this year To My Children’s Children and Forced to Grow and Yewande Omotoso and the many others that are such gems but remain below the radar.

      When I heard Damon Galgut speak about his decision to narrate from within the funerals, I thought, oh yes, that was done brilliantly by Maryse Condé in Crossing the Mangrove one of my favourite reads from 2020.

      I also remember the discomfort of reading Marlene van Niiekerk’s Agaat (The Way of Women – UK title) which was shortlisted for the International Booker in 2015 (translated from Afrikaans), something that also put me off entering into the family Galgut depicts.

      I do think The Promise also sounds interesting from a writer’s perspective, with the narrative shifts, maybe I ought not to be so strict on myself, ahh the dilemma!


  2. I’ve not read this one, but my local branch library had a few of his books and when I read the backs of them pre-Covid, I was struck by the fact that they were ALL so interesting that I couldn’t choose one (not a problem that surfaces as often as one might guess from the size of my TBR, usually one or two really do standout for a pet theme or setting or something). The themes that seem to underpin his work, they just seem to be a grand match for my reading taste.


  3. Pingback: Best Books Read in 2021 Part 1: The Stats + One Outstanding Read of the Year – Word by Word

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