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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2021.

There is nothing unusual or remarkable about the Swart family, oh no, they resemble the family from the next farm and the one beyond that, just an ordinary bunch of white South Africans, and if you don't believe it then listen to us speak....

The many voices of The Promise tell a story in four snapshots, each one centered on a family funeral, each one happening in a different decade. In the background, a different president is in power, and a different spirit hangs over the country, while in the foreground the family fights over what they call their farm, on a worthless piece of land outside Pretoria. 

Over large jumps in time, people get older, faces and laws and lives all change, while a brother and sister circle around a promise made long ago and never kept.... 

©2021 Damon Galgut (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Promise

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  • #carylreads
  • 23-07-2021

Difficult experience

I am a South African, who, like Anton, wished to, and got, the hell out. This book is almost unbearable to me in the clarity it sheds on the awfulness of the life I was born into. Peter Noble’s narration accurately captures the nuances of Afrikaner, Jew, Anglophile and oppressed Black. There can be no winners in such a story. Everyone is guilty, if not by act, then by association. To those who did not enjoy or empathize with this book, I say count yourselves lucky that you did not understand it. Damon Galgut stands witness…

5 people found this helpful

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  • tomjudesmith
  • 20-07-2021

Great story, bursting with ideas

This is a great story that is bursting with ideas. It tracks South Africa over the last 30 years. There are some innovative techniques. I've never read anything that flashes from perspective to perspective like a camera panning. An absolute pleasure to read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M J Clasen
  • 07-07-2021

Bleak but sadly recognisable depiction

Damon Galgut is a new author to me and I really enjoyed this book and in particular his writing style but felt there was perhaps scope to delve a little deeper into the key characters. I recognised much in the societal context and yes of course it is depressing to contemplate but that's hardly a reason not to do so. Brilliant narration by Peter Noble!

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  • mrs c ayers
  • 01-07-2021

Bleak and superficial - poor character development

I couldn't bear the narrator's voice - it seemed to vibrate horribly. This book had such a brilliant review in the weekend papers that I rushed to get it, glad to discover a brilliant new author. Sadly I was disappointed. There was a story there and lots of observation of different people's behaviours, but none of the characters was really developed and all the characters (to the limited extent we knew them) seemed shallow and behaved awfully. There was no spark of goodness in the book - one character does do the right thing and try to be good - but again we never get inside her head either. So I would say it was rather bleak, superficial and obsessed with weird observations of how little for example novels usually mention that we all wee and poo etc. As if that was a clever observation! I would not recommend the book and won't bother to read any of this author's other books. If you want a cracking novel try The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk - now that is a masterpiece!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Perry
  • 10-10-2021

Touching portrayal of a troubled country

I grew up in South Africa leaving it finally in 1986 so the early chapters of this stunning book felt like stepping back in time. Galgut paints an evocative and emotional picture of a dysfunctional family in a dysfunctional country as both move from generation to generation. Dividing the book across key moments in South Africas history and the key characters lives results in a moving juxtaposition and powerful metaphor for both the country's and their troubled development.
The reading is excellent and the many accents a joy to revisit.
A beautiful and sensitive story....

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  • Butterfly
  • 09-10-2021

Incredible writing, story, narration

Absolutely loved this book, it has to win the Booker prize, surely. As a South African (now living in UK) and having lived through this history (I’m a similar age to Damon Galgut), I can say how he has perfectly captured so many aspects and tensions and contradictions and injustices - and people, wow the characters are so real and utterly believable. It reminded me at the start and finish of Under Milkwood.
I thought the narrator was brilliant, every accept spot on.
Would thoroughly recommend.

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  • J Rossouw
  • 19-09-2021

Disappointing

I couldn’t help but think that it tries to be a JBM Coetzee novel but fails. The symbolism is blunt and the SA references over done. Some phrases also not period accurate. I cannot recommend it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 31-08-2021

Definitely a Booker contender

My fourth by this author and definitely the best and toughest. Extremely well written and the audible narrator does it justice. Recommend for all lovers of great literature and those interested in South Africa

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  • Manda N
  • 27-08-2021

Could win the Booker Prize 2021 it’s that good!

Brilliant! Both the novel and audible presentation. I rated this 10/10 and a high contender to get shortlisted and then win this years Booker prize.

A white family in South Africa. Four deaths and their aftermath, each approximately a decade apart.

The political changes within a country divided. Practical living and turmoil.

Beautifully written, I engaged with the characters immediately. Didn’t want to leave them at the end.

A few nods to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness within.

All round stunning.

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  • 匿名
  • 22-08-2021

Four funerals but no wedding.

The novel covers many historical episodes in the history of South Africa over a period of 40 years. However, I found the story rather depressing.

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