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These 25 new short stories, written to go together and none of them previously published, mark Booker Prize-winning Graham Swift's return to the short form after 7 acclaimed novels, and affirm him as a master storyteller. Swift's England is a richly peopled country that is both a crucible of history and a maze of contemporary confusions. Meet Dr. Shah who has never been to India and Mrs. Kaminski, on her way to Poland by way of her hospital bed. Meet Holly and Polly who have come to their own Anglo-Irish understanding, and Lily Hobbs, married to a shirt. There's Charlie and Don, who have seen the docks turn into the Docklands; Daisy Baker, who is terrified of Yorkshire; and Johnny Dewhurst, of Leeds, lost on Exmoor. Graham Swift steers us effortlessly from the Civil War to the present day, and the secret dramas contained within walls, rooms, homes, workplaces. With his remarkable sense of place and voice, he charts an intimate geography that moves us profoundly and yet at times makes us laugh out loud. Binding these stories together is his grasp of the universal in the local and his affectionate but unflinching instinct for narrative. England and Other Stories evokes that mysterious body that is a nation by giving us the palpable sense of individual bodies finding or losing their way in the nationless territories of birth, love, sex, aging and death.
A collection of new stories from the Booker-prize winning author of Last Orders and Waterland; 'a powerful statement about English ways of life and death' Independent on Sunday Meet Dr Shah, who has never been to India, and Mrs Kaminski, on her way to Poland via A&E. Meet Holly and Polly, who have come to their own Anglo-Irish understanding; Charlie and Don, who have seen the docks turn into Docklands; Daisy Baker, terrified of Yorkshire; and Johnny Dewhurst, stranded on Exmoor. Binding these stories together is Graham Swift's affectionate but unflinching instinct for the story of us all: an evocation of that mysterious body that is a nation, deepened by the palpable sense of our individual bodies finding or losing their way in the nationless territory of birth, ageing, sex and death.'England writ large. Swift's England is one pulsating with its past ... his protagonists the everymen and women who make up this country' Observer 'Ordinary lives become extraordinary in Graham Swift's powerful stories' Sunday Times 'Beautifully realised. An intimate, quirky and affectionate tour of Everyman's England' The Times 'Elegant, humble, and humane ... A coherent, powerful statement about English ways of life and death' Independent on Sunday
From the Booker Prize-winning author of Last Orders and Wish You Were Here, his first new book of short fiction in nearly thirty years: beautifully crafted, piercingly observant stories that unite into a richly peopled vision of a country that is both a crucible of history and a maze of contemporary confusions. Meet Dr. Shah who has never been to India, and Mrs. Kaminski, on her way to Poland; meet Holly and Polly, who have come to their own Anglo-Irish understanding, and Charlie and Don, who have seen the docks turn into Docklands; Daisy Baker, who is terrified of Yorkshire; and Johnny Dewhurst, stranded on Exmoor. Graham Swift steers us effortlessly from the seventeenth century to the present day, from world-shaking events to the secret dramas lived out in rooms, workplaces, homes. With these open-eyed, eloquent and often comic stories, Swift charts a human geography that moves us profoundly.From the Hardcover edition.
Dazzling in its structure and shattering in its emotional force, Graham Swift's Ever After spans two centuries and settings from the adulterous bedrooms of postwar Paris to the contemporary entanglements in the groves of academe. It is the story of Bill Unwin, a man haunted by the death of his beautify wife and a survivor himself of a recent brush with mortality. And although it touches on Darwin and dinosaurs, bees and bridge builders, the true subject of Ever After is nothing less than the eternal question, "Why should things matter?""Ever After is explicitly concerned with historical investigation, love, death, family affairs.... It moves quickly, and it vibrates with feeling and thought."--Wall Street Journal
Four men gather in a London pub. They have taken it upon themselves to carry out the last orders of Jack Dodds, master butcher, and deliver his ashes to the sea. As they drive towards the fulfillment of their mission, their errand becomes an extraordinary journey into their collective and individual pasts. Braiding these men's voices, and that of Jack's widow, into a choir of sorrow and resentment, passion and regret, Swift creates a testament to a changing England and to enduring mortality. "Swift has involved us in real, lived lives...Quietly, but with conviction, he seeks to affirm the values of decency, loyalty, love."--New York Review of Books"A beautiful book...a novel that speaks profoundly of human need and tenderness. Even the most cynical will be warmed by it."--San Francisco Chronicle
The men and women in these spare, Kafkaesque stories are engaged in struggles that are no less brutal because they are fought by proxy. In Graham Swift's taut prose, these quiet combative relationships--between a mismatched couple; an aging doctor and his hypochondriacal patient; a teenage refugee swept up in the conflict between an oppressively sentimental father and his rebellious son--become a microcosm for all human cruelty and need."Swift proves throughout this ambitious collection that he is a master of his language and the construction of provocative situations."--Houston Chronicle
The Light of Day combines a powerful love story and a narrative of intense suspense into a brilliant and tender novel about what drives people to extremes of emotion. As in his Booker-winning novel Last Orders, Swift transforms ordinary lives through extraordinary storytelling.This new novel from Graham Swift -- his first since the Booker Prize-winning Last Orders -- is the work of a master storyteller. The Light of Day is a luminous and gripping tale of love, murder and redemption.George Webb is a divorced ex-policeman turned private investigator, a man whose prospects seemed in ruins not so long ago. Following the course of a single, dazzling day in George's life, the novel illuminates not only his past but his now all-consuming relationship with a former client. Intimate and intricate in its evocation of daily existence, The Light of Day achieves a singular intensity and almost unbearable suspense. Tender and humorous in its depiction of life's surface, Swift explores the depths and extremities of what lies within us and how, for better or worse, it's never too late to discover what they are.Excerpt from The Light of DayTwo years ago and a little more. October still, but a day like today, blue and clear and crisp. Rita opened my door and said, "Mrs. Nash."I was already on my feet, buttoning my jacket. Most of them have no comparisons to go on -- it's their first time. It must feel like coming to a doctor. They expected something shabbier, seedier, more shaming. The tidy atmosphere, Rita's doing, surprises and reassures them. And the vase of flowers.White chrysanthemums, I recall."Mrs. Nash, please have a seat."I could be some high-street solicitor. A fountain-pen in my fingers. Doctor, solicitor -- marriage guidance counsellor. You have to be a bit of all three.The usual look of plucked-up courage, swallowed-back hesitation, of being somewhere they'd rather not be."My husband is seeing another woman."
'An immensely readable volume. On every page, Swift emerges as a considerable essayist, who upholds the sterling virtue of good writing combined with emotional and intellectual engagement'Evening StandardAs a novelist, Graham Swift delights in the possibilities of the human voice, imagining his way into the minds and hearts of an extraordinary range of characters. In Making an Elephant, his first ever work of non-fiction, the voice is his own. Swift brings together a richly varied selection of essays, portraits, poetry, and reflections on his life in writing, full of insights into his passions and motivations, and wise about the friends, family, and other writers who have mattered to him over the years. Kazuo Ishiguro advises on how to choose a guitar, Salman Rushdie arrives for Christmas under guard, and Ted Hughes shares the secrets of a Devon river. There are private moments, too, with long-dead writers, as well as musings on history and memory that readers of Swift's novels will recognize and love. 'A rewarding collection, with the same humanity and flair for detail that distinguishes Swift's fiction'TLS'Revealing, self-deprecating, full of fascinating details. 'Edward Marriott, Observer'Swift's essays display the same quiet intensity as his fiction, a capacity for subtle storytelling with dark emotional undercurrents'Financial Times
It is March 30th 1924. It is Mothering Sunday. How will Jane Fairchild, orphan and housemaid, occupy her time when she has no mother to visit? How, shaped by the events of this never to be forgotten day, will her future unfold? Beginning with an intimate assignation and opening to embrace decades, Mothering Sundayhas at its heart both the story of a life and the life that stories can magically contain. Constantly surprising, joyously sensual and deeply moving, it is Graham Swift at his thrilling best.
A luminous, intensely moving tale that begins with a secret lovers' assignation in the spring of 1924, then unfolds to reveal the whole of a remarkable life. Twenty-two-year-old Jane Fairchild has worked as a maid at an English country house since she was sixteen. For almost all of those years she has been the clandestine lover to Paul Sheringham, young heir of a neighboring house. The two now meet on an unseasonably warm March day--Mothering Sunday--a day that will change Jane's life forever. As the narrative moves back and forth from 1924 to the end of the century, what we know and understand about Jane--about the way she loves, thinks, feels, sees, remembers--expands with every vividly captured moment. Her story is one of profound self-discovery, and through her, Graham Swift has created an emotionally soaring, deeply affecting work of fiction.From the Hardcover edition.
Out of This World interweaves the history of a blighted family with the tragic and ludicrous history of the twentieth century. Its alternating narrators are a father and daughter--each obsessed with the other and irrevocably estranged--surveying their losses and grievances on opposite sides of the Atlantic. "A moving, ingenious and often very funny tale that takes us deep into his characters' wounded, resilient hearts with breathtaking virtuosity...rich, complicated, joyful, arresting."--USA Today
Prentis, the narrator of this nightmarish novel, catalogs "dead crimes" for a branch of the London Police Department and suspects that he is going crazy. His files keep vanishing. His boss subjects him to cryptic taunts. His family despises him. And as Prentis desperately tries to hold on to the scraps of his sanity, he uncovers a conspiracy of blackmail and betrayal that extends from his department and into the buried past of his father, a war hero code-named "Shuttlecock"--and, lately, a resident of a hospital for the insane.
The Sweet-Shop Owner is set during a single June day in the life of an outwardly unremarkable man whose inner world proves to be exceptionally resonant. As he tends to his customers, Willy Chapman, the sweet-shop owner, confronts the specters of his beautiful and distant wife and his clever, angry daughter, the history through which he has passed, and the great, unrequited passion that has tormented him for forty years.
From Graham Swift, Booker Prize-winning author of Last Orders, comes a masterful and compassionate novel of rare emotional power and narrative skill.On a midsummer's night, Paula lies awake beside her sleeping husband. She and Mike have been married for twenty-five years, a good marriage; they have two teenage children, Nick and Kate, peacefully sleeping in their own nearby rooms. But Paula's eyes won't close: the next morning she and Mike have to tell the children something that will redefine all their lives.Recalling the years before and after her children were born, Paula begins a story that is both a glowing celebration of love possessed and a moving acknowledgement of the fear of loss, of the fragilities, illusions and secrets on which even our most intimate sense of who we are can rest. As day draws nearer, Paula's intensely personal thoughts seem to touch on all our tomorrows.Brilliantly distilling half a century into one suspenseful night, as tender in its tone as it is deep in its resonance, Tomorrow is a magical exploration of coupledom, parenthood and individuality, and a unique meditation on the mysteries of happiness and belonging.It's a week past your sixteenth birthday. By a fluke that's become something of an embarrassment and that some people will say wasn't a fluke at all, you were born in Gemini. I'm not an especially superstitious woman. I married a scientist. But one little thing I'll do tomorrow-today, I mean, but for a little while still I can keep up the illusion-is cross my fingers. Everything's quiet, the house is still. Mike and I have anticipated this moment, we've talked about it and rehearsed it in our heads so many times that recently it's sometimes seemed like a relief: it's actually come. On the other hand, it's monstrous, it's outrageous-and it's in our power to postpone it. But 'after their sixteenth birthday', we said, and let's be strict about it. Perhaps you may even appreciate our discipline and tact. Let's be strict, but let's not be cruel. Give them a week. Let them have their birthday, their last birthday of that old life.You're sleeping the deep sleep of teenagers. I just about remember it. I wonder how you'll sleep tomorrow.--from TomorrowFrom the Hardcover edition.
Set in the bleak Fen Country of East Anglia, and spanning some 240 years in the lives of its haunted narrator and his ancestors, Waterland is a book that takes in eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the heartless sweep of history and a family romance as tormented as any in Greek tragedy."Waterland, like the Hardy novels, carries with all else a profound knowledge of a people, a place, and their interweaving.... Swift tells his tale with wonderful contemporary verve and verbal felicity.... A fine and original work."--Los Angeles Times
From the prizewinning author of the acclaimed Last Orders, The Light of Day, and Waterland, a powerfully moving new novel set in present-day England, but against the background of a global "war on terror" and about things that touch our human core. On an autumn day in 2006, on the Isle of Wight, Jack Luxton--once a farmer, now the proprietor of a seaside caravan park--receives the news that his brother Tom, not seen for years, has been killed in combat in Iraq. The news will have its far-reaching effects for Jack and his wife, Ellie, and compel Jack to make a crucial journey: to receive his brother's remains, but also to return to the land of his past and of his most secret, troubling memories. A gripping, hauntingly intimate, and compassionate story that moves toward a fiercely suspenseful climax, Wish You Were Here translates the stuff of headlines into heartwrenching personal truth.This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.