Graham Swift

Graham Swift, a tremendous novelist, was brought to our attention again this week with a review of his most recent novel, his eleventh. It’s titled Here We Are, and is reviewed here.

In its focus on reflection memory and sorting the past, the novel seems to follow familiar Swift territory. Here’s another review, which claims that the novel is ‘a work of transparent narrative conjuring’.

Swift has been an important novelist for some time, having published his first novel in 1980 and won nine prizes and awards for his work, including the Booker Prize in 1996. Here’s an overview of his work on the British Council site, which is a good source of information on a number of writers.

For me, his greatest novel is Waterland, published in 1983. It would be particularly interesting for historians, as it examines the blending of personal and national history and how history is told and recorded, history through story. The central character is himself a history teacher and the novel inevitably also considers education, youth and growing up. It’s a complex and rich novel, which I thoroughly recommend. Here are a couple of articles about it which you may find interesting. The second one is quite academic, considering the novel from an ecocritical standpoint.

On another front altogether, the great playwright Tom Stoppard’s latest work is being staged in London at the moment. He has had a spectacular career of writing complex, witty dramas exploring science, time, language and philosophy, often with great humour. Arcadia is perhaps his greatest play. His latest is a little different, exploring history which for him is highly personal.