“I am deeply, humbly grateful,” said the 57-year-old winner, a third-time Booker Prize finalist. Obviously moved, he hailed a “great year for African writing”, marked by the Nobel Prize for literature by Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Briton born in Zanzibar.
“It’s a process that will continue” and “people are going to take African writing a little more seriously,” Damon Galgut warned at a press conference, “there is a lot of great writing coming up. from our home “.
On receiving the award, Damon Galgut, who was among the favorites among the six finalists, stressed that he wanted to accept it for “all the stories that have been told and those that haven’t been told”, the writers, recognized or not, “of this remarkable continent”.
Covering the period from the end of apartheid until the presidency of Jacob Zuma, his book, The Promise, traces, over a series of burials, the gradual dislocation of a white family in Pretoria as the country emerges towards democracy.
The president of the jury, the historian Maya Jasanoff, underlined “the originality and the fluidity of incredible voices” of the work, “a dense book, with a historical and metaphorical significance”.
The New Yorker called The Promise “remarkable”, while the Sunday Times of South Africa found it “astonishing how many stories Galgut manages to put into this short novel”.
In a video released before the announcement of the result, the author explained that he wanted to show in this book “the passage of time and what he does to the family, what he does to the politics of the country and what he does to notions of justice ”.
“How time flies”
The real subject of the book is “time and how time flies”. If one message were to take hold, “It would be that mortality is what underlies all of our lives.” We are all getting older and everything changes as time goes by ”.
Broadcast on the BBC, the ceremony brought together all the finalists in person, after video conference appearances in the previous edition due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
The six books selected for the final were selected by the five jurors from 158 novels published in the United Kingdom or Ireland between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.
There were the American Patricia Lockwood, in the running for No One Is Talking About This, which puts the tragedy of a lifetime in the face of the “absurdity” of social networks, as well as two of her compatriots: Richard Powers (Bewilderment, in which an astrobiologist escapes to fantastic worlds as he helps his troubled son) and Maggie Shipstead (Great Circle, who takes readers through the intertwining journeys of a 20th-century aviator and a 21st-century Hollywood star) .
The other finalists were Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasam, 33, with A Passage
North, which evokes trauma and memories of the civil war in Sri Lanka, and British-Somali Nadifa Mohamed, 40, for The Fortune Men, based on the true story of a Somali man wrongfully convicted and executed for the murder of a woman in Cardiff harbor, Wales, in 1952.
Last year, the award went to the Scotsman Douglas Stuart for his first novel Shuggie Bain, which is set in a working-class family in Glasgow plagued by alcoholism and poverty in the 1980s.
Launched in 1969, the Booker Prize annually rewards the author of “the best novel written in English”. The winner wins a prize of 50,000 pounds (approximately 55,000 euros) and the assurance of international fame.
Sylvain PEUCHMAURD / AFP
“I am deeply, humbly grateful,” said the 57-year-old winner, a third-time Booker Prize finalist. Obviously moved, he hailed a “great year for African writing”, marked by the Nobel Prize for Literature by Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Briton born in Zanzibar. “It is a process that will continue” and …
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Damon Galgut crowned with the Booker Prize for “The Promise”