Death and dishonour: The Promise, by Damon Galgut, reviewed

If death is not an event in life, as Wittgenstein observed, it’s a curious way to structure a novel. But since death is certainly an event in other people’s lives, Damon Galgut’s family saga, shrunk to the moments of passing, is ingenious. That the narrative takes great leaps over time yet also gives a firm sense of continuity is impressive. The various deaths in the Swart family take place over decades of political change in South Africa, which they barely register on their remote farm. Theirs is a mostly unexamined life, with white rule a given, practically ordained by God. The first death, that of Rachel, or ‘Ma’, is not

Why great speeches are made for stage and screen

Curious thing, writer’s block. If you believe it exists. Terry Pratchett didn’t. ‘There’s no such thing,’ he said. ‘It was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.’ He had a point. Writers write, period. But there is a syndrome in my house known as Not Starting Anything New Through Fear Of It Being Not Very Good. Less catchy than ‘writer’s block’, but arguably a more accurate description of the condition. My Covid-induced version of the above involved endlessly ‘honing’ an already completed play about my mother to devastatingly little effect and musing on the oldest creative question of all: is there a formula for writing success, and if so