Book Reviews

Review: The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs by Damon Galgut

The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs by Damon Galgut 3.5/5

Blurb: A year ago Patrick Winter was in Namibia completing his military service. Now, during the first free elections, Patrick has returned to the country he defended; the place where he fell in love for the first and only time. With the country poised to change forever, Patrick is forced to revisit his past and scale the wall that he has built around his painful memories of love and war, and loss.


Patrick is a white South African who had been drafted into the South African army to fight at the border of Namibia in the 1980’s; a war he never believed in. He had a breakdown after a soldier he loved was killed in combat, and now, after an honourable discharge, he has to start his life again with sexual orientation confusion, a promiscuous mother, and her Namibian, SWAPO activist lover. The narrative shows Patrick’s struggle with his identity, whilst highlighting an important historical moment in Africa.

The story starts with Patrick and his mother heading to Namibia for the first democratic elections, and jumps from present time to his time in the war. The writing is beautiful and controlled. I was continuously in awe of Galgut’s simplistic, yet impactual descriptions and prose.

‘Maybe somewhere in space light has preserved the image of that moment, suspended and infinite.’

The dialogue was on point throughout the whole novel, recounted in Patrick’s slightly detached POV.

“Have you ever been in love?”

“Yes. Once. I think so. I’m not sure.”

“You never told me about it.”

“I don’t think I knew at the time.”

The ending was anti-climatic, and kind of just…was an end, if that makes sense. I was hoping for more of a climax or pivotal moment for Patrick, but that didn’t take away from the story.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties.

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman.

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review.