BY Harsimran Kaur ON Nov 15 , 2021 IN BOOK REVIEWS, THE PROMISE/DAMON GALGUT/FICTION
Honored with the prestigious Booker Prize 2021, the book “The Promise” by Damon Galgut mesmerizes with its human touch and awkwardness. A promise kept or a promise broken is indigenously a validation of human inclination to either serve humanity or deceive it with reprisals. In any of the circumstances, life goes on to teach that perseverance and honesty go a long way in etching a righteous path.
We all pledge to be compassionate and humane. But our survival is so ego-centric that it avariciously takes away the solidarity of one-man ship and intoxicatingly harvests fissiparous tendencies to differentiate ourselves from others in every aspect of evaluations. We see the same oblivious emotions portrayed by the Swarts family in “The Promise.” They are a bunch of condescension, each living in its own flock of frills and fragilities. When it comes to adhering to the promise given by “Ma” after her long-lost battle with life, they all show a bruise back except the youngest Amor. They all nefariously obscure it with an insouciant urge to procrastinate the unwarranted due to the black woman. Salome has given her plentiful years to service the Swarts but is denied the land promised to her. Though, this aberration does not pull her out from being a dutiful maid.
The years turn into decades. As the vicissitudes of life binge on each member, we see the quivering walls of the tunnel being imperceptibly beamed with a hopeful incessant light.
The characters are vivid in their thought and appearance. Pa owns the farm and has an impeccable fetish to maintain the reptile park. The children of Ma and Pa, “Astrid, Anton and Amor” presumably live a life inconspicuous of their desires and directions. Each one of them describes life as edgy. It is governed by their proclivities to sustain rather than share. Amor is the soft cloud in the otherwise blemished horizon. She is different and acts as an unflinching guardian and provider of the promise.
Set up in the backdrop of incendiary divisions in South Africa to the sunrise of democracy, “The Promise” is a book about human tendencies to resist and restore. Shuffling hither and thither into the lives of each character, what comes forth is their self-justifying exculpation. It also professes their pre-occupation to preserve life with unripen moralities inconclusive of what reality beckons them to do.
The softness of each word to define the course of life is plausible and has a humorous touch. Simply intriguing and engaging!!