A collection of new stories from the Booker-prize winning author of Last Orders, and of the Sunday Times bestseller Mothering 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.
Praise for Mothering Sunday:
'Bathed in light; and even when tragedy strikes, it blazes irresistibly… Swift’s small fiction feels like a masterpiece’ Guardian
‘Alive with sensuousness and sensuality … wonderfully accomplished, it is an achievement’ Sunday Times
‘From start to finish Swift’s is a novel of stylish brilliance and quiet narrative verve. The archly modulated, precise prose (a hybrid of Henry Green and Kazuo Ishiguro) is a glory to read. Now 66, Swift is a writer at the very top of his game’ Evening Standard
‘Mothering Sunday is a powerful, philosophical and exquisitely observed novel about the lives we lead, and the parallel lives – the parallel stories – we can never know … It may just be Swift’s best novel yet’ Observer
Man Booker winner Swift (Last Orders) sets his eye on the mutterings and putterings of everyday English folk in his first story collection in nearly 30 years. Spanning the time of the English Civil War in the mid-17th century to the present day, each of the 25 vignettes explores a simple theme divorce and separation, death and grief, lust and longing in unadorned prose and in just a few pages. "Remember This" has a young man penning a love note to his new wife after a day spent signing their wills; the undelivered letter has an unintended effect on their relationship. "Fusilli" finds a father stranded in a supermarket pasta aisle, mourning his soldier son's death in Afghanistan. In "The Best Days," a man at a funeral looks back at his first sexual encounter, with a school friend's mother. Not all Swift's choices are perfect some, such as the widow's preoccupation with washing her dead soldier husband's shirt in "Was She the Only One," or the old man's remembrance of his dead wife after receiving a terminal cancer prognosis in "I Live Alone," are heartbreakingly intimate, but others, such as the circular "Going Up in the World," are underdeveloped at best. A uniting factor throughout is Swift's strong sense of place and the idea that life can be transformed in a moment.