Book Talk

The Promise by Damon Galgut

Internationally acclaimed author Damon Galgut’s Booker Prize-awarded novel, The Promise, was published to huge acclaim in recent years. And, now, it’s been adapted for the stage in a production that promises to receive equal acclaim.

The world premiere opening night of the production took place on 19 September, and you can see it during the rest of September until 6 October at Cape Town’s The Star Theatre at the Homecoming Centre (formerly The Fugard Theatre).

This incredible production was adapted from the book by Damon Galgut himself, in collaboration with Sylvaine Strike, who also directs the production. 

The story: On a small farm outside Pretoria, the Swart family – “a typical bunch of white South Africans” – tries to hold itself together through the violent lurches of recent history. They have promised to give a small piece of land with a tiny house on it to Salome, the Sotho woman who has worked for them her whole life. A worthless property, but still, they will not give it up. 

Are they cursed, or just unlucky? One by one, members of the family die, while everything around them changes and they try to stay the same. Only two siblings will eventually be left, facing each other across a great divide: Anton, the tormented older brother, and Amor, his strange younger sister – the family member key to a promise made to her Jewish mother years earlier.

The author spoke at the opening night performance of his immense gratitude to the funders of the play, which took over two years to complete. Jewish Capetonians Derek and Janet Lubner, who now live in London, have shown a commitment to the arts in their former home country through their very generous funding of the production.

Don’t miss this production – it makes for both an entertaining and very thought-provoking evening of great theatre. 

Bookings can be made at Webtickets.

The Jacob Gitlin Library has two copies of The Promise available for lending.

The Phoebe Book of Poems for Children by Patricia Schonstein

‘Be kind to all creatures, great and small’. This is the succinct message given to children by a little dog named Phoebe on the opening page of The Phoebe Book of Poems for Children. She presents as an ambassador for goodwill towards other species.

In real life, Phoebe survived horrific torture at the hands of misguided, poorly educated children. Her experience prompted South African businesswoman, Sarah Clayton, to establish The Cactus Foundation Africa. This, the foundation’s first publication, is by South African novelist Patricia Schonstein. Its colourfully illustrated pages conjure up an animal-rich African wilderness, pristine oceans, and domestic settings against which poems prompt young readers toward the beauty and fragility of nature. Schonstein’s collection, a creative blend of rhyme, rhythm, empathy and kindness, will do good service both in the classroom and at home. It will be invaluable for young children who might be sensing the despair of climate collapse and the desecration of nature.

Cape Town writer, Patricia Schonstein, will present her book to children at the Jacob Gitlin Library, on 4 October, when she will talk about animal care and read poems from the book. 

• Published in the October 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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