Books by Graham Swift

Released: April 19, 2016

"Swift has fun with language, with class conventions, and with narrative expectations in a novel where nothing is as simple or obvious as it seems at first."
In England of 1924, a maid who knows her affair with an estate owner's son must end moves through that last day with sly humor and sensual detail. Read full book review >
Released: May 19, 2015

"The stories recall different eras stylistically as well, bearing echoes of Cheever, touches of O. Henry, and, in one chilling case, of Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery.' With few weak spots and more than a few killers, it's a potent gathering."
The British author of Waterland crams enough life into these vignettes and full-blown stories to be justified in slyly giving his third collection a country's name.Read full book review >
WISH YOU WERE HERE by Graham Swift
Released: April 17, 2012

"Profound empathy and understated eloquence mark a novel so artfully nuanced that the last few pages send the reader back to the first few, with fresh understanding."
A novel as contemporary as international terrorism and the war in Iraq and as timeless as mortality, from one of Britain's literary masters. Read full book review >
TOMORROW by Graham Swift
Released: Sept. 17, 2007

"A richly satisfying novel of blood ties, the interplay of nature and nurture and the secrets that even the closest families keep from each other."
A marvelous character study with minimal plot. Read full book review >
THE LIGHT OF DAY by Graham Swift
Released: May 5, 2003

"A moody lament for a vanished past, present, and future that grates subtly on the nerves and lingers uncomfortably in the memory."
An ex-policeman turned private detective finds himself unable to forget a former client who murdered her unfaithful husband. Read full book review >
LAST ORDERS by Graham Swift
Released: April 5, 1996

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true. Read full book review >
EVER AFTER by Graham Swift
Released: March 12, 1992

This time out, Swift (Out of This World, Waterland, Learning to Swim, etc.) at first seems to be reworking a fictional convention that's becoming tired from overuse: the writer—or, as here, the Oxford academic—who finds himself in possession of an old manuscript whose revelations dovetail with the perturbations of the modern interpreter. Bill Unwin is the ambivalent don in question, and the journals (bequeathed by family) concern a Victorian ancestor named Matthew Pearce, a surveyor and rector's son-in-law whose life and faith is changed forever when, on the cliffs of Dorset in 1844, he comes face-to-face with an ichthyosaurus. Darwin replaces God in Pearce at that instant—but in Unwin the revelation only sharpens the dilemma of knowing what's better unknown (in his own case, the suicide death of his father), and the questions of immortality and memory and fame and mutability (all very much on his mind since his beloved actress wife Ruth's early cancer death). Unwin has attempted suicide himself but failed, and the vagrant nature of his narration seems an impossible search for focus. Swift is a very cunning writer, though. Every thematic strand- -books, bridges, railroads, dinosaurs, acting, sex—subtly achieves a color that makes it recognizable once the chords of fugue on the theme of mortality and immortality are struck. And feeling (a rare commodity in younger British writers nowadays) is what makes these colors so high: even at its most looping and shuffling, the book finds ways to move you, untricked-up emotion being its surest ground. Unwin's losses are ranged around, but so are the bravery of his questioning memory and the fidelity of his love. Read full book review >