Graham Swift is among the foremost contemporary British writers, having published seven highly acclaimed novels which are widely read by students and general public alike. Waterland has become a modern classic and Last Orders won the Booker Prize in 1996. This study covers all of his novels to date (including his latest, The Light of Day) and is the first critical monograph on him to appear so far. It offers a close reading of each novel, exploring their innovative formal strategies and identifying such recurrent themes as the presence of the past in the present, the blurring of distinctions between 'history' and 'story', fact and fiction, and the possibilities of redemption in a contemporary social and emotional wasteland. For the most part set in an urban, middle class, claustrophobic and loveless 'present', and focused on usually fraught relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, these recognisably 'postmodern' novels are seen here as symptomatic of contemporary Britain: a world where, in the shadow of nuclear holocaust, we approach 'the End of History' and only 'telling stories' seems to offer solace.
Peter Widdowson is Professor of English the University of Gloucestershire. He has published widely on a range of topics, recent books including: i>Literature (1999); The Palgrave Guide to English Literature and Its Contexts, 1500-2000 (2004); A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory, 5th edtn. (with Raman Selden and Peter Brooker (2005); Graham Swift (2005). But he is perhaps best known for his writings on Hardy: Hardy in History: A Study in Literary Sociology (1989); (ed.), Tess of the d'Urbervilles: A New Casebook (1993); On Thomas Hardy: Late Essays and Earlier (1998); (ed.) Thomas Hardy: Selected Poetry and Non-Fictional Prose (1996); (ed. with Tim Dolin), Thomas Hardy and Contemporary Literary Studies (2004), several of which contain essays on Hardy and film