Booker Prize goes to novel about a South African Jewish mother’s dying wish


(JTA) — The prestigious Booker Prize for fiction has gone to a South African’s novel about a Jewish woman’s dying wish.

Author Damon Galgut picked up the £50,000 ($68,000) prize at a ceremony on Wednesday in London. “The Promise” spans 40 years of recent South African history, and kicks off when the mother of a white farm-owning clan insists that the family’s Black maid inherit the house she lives in — despite apartheid laws preventing Blacks from owning property.

The mother in the novel returns to her Jewish roots after converting to her husband’s evangelical Christian faith. In a review of “The Promise,” the Jewish Chronicle noted that “Galgut’s descriptions of Jewish observance are impressively detailed, and Judaism comes off well compared with other religious and spiritual traditions that feature in the novel.”

“The Promise” is the ninth book by Galgut, 57. The chair of the judging committee, Maya Jasanoff, described it as “a tour de force.” The Booker Prize is awarded annually to the best novel written in English and published in Britain or Ireland.

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