(London) South African author Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize, a prestigious British literary prize, on Wednesday evening for The Promisea book about time spent in a white farming family in post-apartheid South Africa.
Updated Nov 3, 2021
“I am deeply, humbly grateful,” said the 57-year-old, a third-time Booker Prize finalist. Clearly moved, he hailed a “great year for African writing”, marked by the Nobel Prize for Literature for 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’s a lot of great writing coming on our side “.
Upon accepting 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 the one that hasn’t”, the writers, recognized or not, “of this remarkable continent”.
Covering the period from the end of apartheid through the presidency of Jacob Zuma, his book, The Promisetraces, through 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 “incredible fluidity of voices”, of the work, “a dense book, with historical and metaphorical significance”.
The New Yorker called The Promise of “remarkable”, while the Sunday Times of South Africa called it “astonishing how much history 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 it does to the family, what it does to the politics of the country and what it does to notions of justice”.
“How Time Flies”
The real subject of the book is “time and how time passes”. If one message were to be remembered, “it would be that mortality is what underlies all our lives”, “we all age and everything changes as time goes by”.
Broadcast on the BBC, the ceremony brought together all the finalists in person, after appearances by videoconference during the previous edition, due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
The six works selected for the final had been selected by the five jurors from among 158 novels published in the United Kingdom or Ireland between 1er October 2020 and September 30, 2021.
It included the American Patricia Lockwood, in the running for No One is talking About Thiswho confronts the tragedy of a lifetime with the “absurdity” of social networks, as well as two of his compatriots: Richard Powers (Bewildermentin which an astrobiologist escapes to fantasy worlds while helping his troubled son) and Maggie Shipstead (Great Circlewhich takes readers through the intertwined journeys of a 20th century aviatore century and a Hollywood star of the XXIe century).
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 the port of Cardiff in Wales in 1952.
Last year, the prize was awarded to Scotsman Douglas Stuart for his first novel Shuggie Bathwhich is set in a working-class family in Glasgow plagued by alcoholism and poverty in the 1980s.
Launched in 1969, the Booker Prize rewards each year the author of the “best novel written in English”. The winner wins a prize of 50,000 pounds (approximately C$85,000) and the assurance of international fame.
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South African Damon Galgut wins the Booker Prize