Damon is an award-winning novelist, short story writer and playwright. He was born in Pretoria in 1963 and studied drama at the University of Cape Town, writing his first novel, A Single Season (1984), when he was seventeen. Small Circle of Beings (1988), a collection of short stories, was followed by the novel The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs (1991) and The Quarry (1995).
His novel, The Good Doctor (2003), set in post-Apartheid South Africa, explores the uneasy friendship between two very different men in a deserted, rural hospital. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Other recent titles include The Imposter (winner of the 2008 University of Johannesburg English Literary Award, shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, M-Net literary award and Sunday Times Fiction Prize); In A Strange Room (shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, the 2011 Ondaatje Prize and the 2011 M-Net Literary Award); and Arctic Summer (winner of the Tate Literature Live Award for Book of the Year 2014, shortlisted for the Walter Scott Historical Fiction Prize 2015 and the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, longlisted for the 2015 Folio Prize).
Damon is an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. After being previously shortlisted in 2003 and 2010, Damon won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 2021 for his latest book The Promise (Chatto & Windus). Set on a farm outside Pretoria, The Promise charts the burn and crash of a white South African family and was described by Maya Jasanoff, Chair of the Judges, as ‘a spectacular demonstration of how the novel can make us see and think afresh’. The Financial Times, The Times, the Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The New Statesman and The New York Times all chose The Promise as one of their Books of the Year. In 2022, The Promise was one of eight books shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize. Translation rights have been sold in over thirty territories and counting.