Review: Damon Galgut “The Promise” – This is going to be ridiculous

Fiction

Publisher:

Gyldendal

Translator:

Johanne Fronth-Nygren

Release year:

2022


«Character rich novel with no real story.»

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First of all, the title is misleading. This refers to the promise Salome, a helper on the South African family farm divided in this book, is given that she will inherit the house on the farm after Mas’s death. Death is the event that moves the story.

Family gatherings are full of conflict from beginning to end, starting from the corpse being taken out of the house, to meeting with rabbis, hespeden, cadish and other Jewish rituals.

In the next part of the book, nine to ten years have passed, and Pa is in a coma after a snakebite in the carotid artery. A predictable pattern emerges. The last few chapters, even years later, about Ma and Pas’ two children, center around events with the same outcome as the first. The promise of home slips into the background of family conflicts and only occasionally comes to the fore, such as news gossip, street riots, and other things that testify to South Africa’s changing society, where blacks have long been treated differently from whites. .

Stumbled into the side story

The fact that the narrator takes every opportunity to fall into a lengthy side story doesn’t make it any easier to understand what’s really going on either. A wood pigeon that flew in through a window in the courtyard and died, buried by one of the married family and only hours later was dug up again and torn apart by a pair of wolves, was given a place as large as a broken promise.

Will die in the hut

Will die in the hut



No character is less important than the fact that they deserve their lives in the story. Even a randomly selected taxi driver, or an alarm system installer who in the family is unfaithful to his immediate husband, does not pass by without a brief explanation. Even though many characters only devote a few sentences and are never mentioned again, it seems that everything in the story in this way is equally important to say. So everything in the story loses importance.

The unimportant story characters are quite funny reflected in the use of the abbreviation «etc.» constant by the narrator. to annoy either himself or another character. I would like to have the same opportunity to summarize. The book looked as if the author really had no story to tell.

Far from reader friendly

The narrator oddly alternates between narrating in first, second and third person. Exchanges usually occur mid-sentence, and readers should enjoy doing detective work. Many of the narrator’s direct questions to readers seem to assume, and reader-friendly, that it’s not the book.

Language is also assumed. The passages in second person give the impression of an exaggerated verbal, on the verge of being ridiculous: “If you look there, but not now, you will see a famous politician, unable to pronounce his last name, clicking sound with his tongue very bent. »

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Playwright Galgut appears in the book as a novelist. Side stories are often used to scroll to another setting. The transition gave off a strong feeling that it was a sketch from a film script I was reading, not a well-done novel.

Lance Heptinstall

"Hardcore zombie fan. Incurable internet advocate. Subtly charming problem solver. Freelance twitter ninja."

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