Damon Galgut

Portrait Damon Galgut
Damon Galgut [© Michaela Verity]

Damon Galgut was born in Pretoria in 1963. He is considered one of South Africa’s most renowned authors.

He made his debut at the age of seventeen with the publication of the novel »A Sinless Season« [1982], which tells the story of three young inmates at a reformatory. He achieved international fame with »The Good Doctor« [2003]. The cleverly constructed and straightforward novel centers on two doctors, one a cynic, the other an idealist, who meet in a remote South African hospital. It comes to light that the violent past of the place still has an impact on the present and on what happens in the hospital. The novel was nominated for the Booker Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. »The Impostor« was published in 2008 and follows a disillusioned poet who runs into a former classmate, now a wealthy businessman, and begins an affair with his wife. Once again characterized by a straightforward style, the novel is devoted not only to the subtleties of character psychology, but also to overarching themes that play a major role in contemporary South Africa, such as corruption and the gap between rich and poor. »In a Strange Room« [2010] was also nominated for the Booker Prize. The novel is about a restless traveler named Damon who cannot find happiness in either the world or in the people he meets along the way. This was followed by »Arctic Summer« [2014], a historical novel about the British author E. M. Forster’s journey to India. Damon Galgut finally won the Booker Prize in 2021 for »The Promise«. The novel is set against the backdrop of South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy. The titular promise was once made by a white family to a longtime servant, a black woman named Salome: she was to have her own house and land. The promise is only being kept by the youngest generation. Critics praised not only how South Africa’s history and current conflict issues are reflected in the characters, but also the stylistic brilliance of the work. According to »DIE ZEIT«, »After only a few pages, the novel compels admiration for the sovereignty and ease with which the pull is created, perspectives change, and a completely new section of the world is revealed each time.«

The author lives in Cape Town.

Date: 2022