Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) congratulates South African Novelist and Playwright Damon Galgut

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04 Nov 2021

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is delighted to congratulate South African novelist and playwright Damon Galgut who took home the top prize for his novel The Promise, a portrait of a white South African family navigating the end of apartheid. Galgut was announced the winner on Wednesday 3 November at a prestigious ceremony that was broadcast live from London to a global audience of millions by the BBC. The Booker Prize judges praised the novel for its “unusual narrative style” and called it a testament to the flourishing of the novel in the 21st century.

Galgut (57) grew up in South Africa at the height of the apartheid era. He wrote his first novel at age 17 and has been nominated for the Booker Prize twice before. He was born and bred in Pretoria, north of Gauteng and was head boy of Pretoria Boys High School. In 2003, he won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book: Africa for his novel The Good Doctor, which was also previously shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His novel In a Strange Room was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize for fiction.

Upon receiving the prize Galgut said, “This has been a great year for African writing. I’d like to accept this on behalf of all the stories told and untold, the writers heard and unheard from the remarkeable continent I come from. I hope people will take African writing a little more seriously now.”

The Promise is Galgut’s 9th novel and his first in seven years. He becomes the 3rd South African to win the prestigious fiction prize after Nadine Gordimer, who won the award in 1974 for The Conservationist and JM Coetzee who won in 1983 for The Life and Times of Michael K, as well as in 1999 for Disgrace

Upon hearing of the news, Minister Nathi Mthethwa said, “This win serves as a reminder of the importance of literature because it allows the reader to step back in time and learn about life on earth from the ones who walked before us. Literature has had a major impact on the development of society and allows us to gather a better understanding of history and culture. It gives us a detailed preview of human experiences and has shaped civilisations, changed political systems and even exposed injustice. We are extremey proud of Damon Galgut for demonstrating to the world that Africa is the hub of spectacular storytellers.”

For media enquiries:

Ms Masechaba Khumalo: Spokesperson (Minister)

Cell: 082 858 4415 | Email:

Ms Zimasa Velaphi: Head of Communications

Cell: 072 172 8925 | Email: