'Wish You Were Here ... is a book of quiet emotional integrity ... Swift is a melancholy and compassionate writer. The mood of his new novel is one of hard-won resilience. Wish You Were Here is a title that might be read as a plea, an order, or an expression of fact. The novel expertly explores the poignant contrast between irrepressible human hope and the constraints within which we live our finite lives.' --Ruth Scurr, The Times
'This is a profound and powerful portrait of a nation and a man in crisis, that for all its gentle intensity also manages to be an unputdownable read.' --Scotland on Sunday
'Affecting, powerfully sober prose. Again, Swift unobtrusively excels at capturing the unshowy stoicism of ordinary people coping with tragedy and the tactful decency with which others help them to do so . . . Wish You Were Here is a work of wide, ambitious span . . . What gives it a compelling hold is Swift's real strength, the authenticity that hallmarks his portrayal of people in crisis' --Peter Kemp, Sunday Times Culture
'I doubt there is a better novelist than Swift for this kind of story . . . The great thing about Swift is the way he takes the elements of melodrama but uses them in a calm, unostentatious and utterly plausible way. In doing so he gets to the heart of people. Serious rural novels such as this remind one of Thomas Hardy . . . in the end, the very end of this extraordinary novel he treats [his characters] with pure compassion.' --Nicholas Lezard, Evening Standard
'Swift's portrait of this staunch, stoical man attempting to reconcile mourning with memory is acutely, poetically honest.' --Marie Claire
`Single-minded, gimmick-proof, Swift's fiction has paid unswerving attention, in both the fine detail of his prose and the wide architecture of his forms, to what the critic Raymond Williams called "structures of feeling". These novels have grown organically into a social-emotional record of modern English experience sensed on the pulse, on the tongue - in the heart...Wish you were here burns with a sombre, rather than a pyrotechnic flame. Stick with it; stay close to its hearth. Like the gruff and saturnine folk within it, this novel takes some getting to know - but more than rewards the effort'
`Unafraid of emotion, though without a moment of sentimentality, Swift brilliantly conveys the confusion of a man and wife trapped by their unspoken fears and cornered into a life that for one at least feels like banishment' --Sunday Herald
`Swift is on top form and has created rural characters as memorable as those in his magnificent third novel' --Oxford Times
`Graham Swift is an exemplary tour guide of unknown English Lives, a penetrating thinker, a wonderful writer of dialogue and description, a nimble craftsman' --Telegraph Review
`The novel has a small cast and little in the way of dramatic incident - though what there is strong enough to be shocking. Yet this is a full and rich novel and one which demands and holds the reader's attention from beginning to end. It is capable of enlarging and deepening our understanding of those mysterious beings - other people'
`[He] continued his long-term project of setting out the complexities within ostensibly simple lives; it was intimate and sad.' --Daily Telegraph Saturday Review
`I was gripped by the subtle tension...which describes a quiet man's slow-burning crisis.'
--Martha Kearney's books of the year
`With pathos rather than comedy its leading note and profound tenderness matched by a lyrical sense of place...[it] took burning questions - overseas wars, dissolving communities, crisis in the countryside - but nourished them with an almost mystical vision of "deep England".'
'In a year when the question of "literary quality" has been given a factitious newsworthiness, one might have expected Graham Swift's Wish You Were Here to have received more attention. Swift pares and reduces his prose till we are very close to the bone, yet his novels still manage to layer the echoes and resonances of ordinary speech in subtle ways. His particular technical brilliance lies in his ability to capture the expressiveness of the inarticulate, yet he does so with an empathy that can move the reader to tears. This book is, in its local, quiet way, a Condition of England novel, with national events drumming a painful tattoo on the stretched membrane of vulnerable lives.' --Stefan Collini, TLS Books of the Year
`Grief, loss and memory are the themes of Swift's elliptical novel. Over a single night Jack Luxton, an uprooted farmer who has sold his family's estate in Devon to manage a trailer park on the Isle of Wight, ponders the death of his brother recently killed in combat in Iraq.' --Financial Times Life & Arts Books of the Year
`The best novel I've read this year, inexplicably absent from prize lists, is Graham Swift's Wish You Were Here, a haunting depiction of one man's relationship with the land of his fathers and his long-lost family...It's not only beautifully written but profound and deeply touching.' --Rosemary Goring, The Herald
`Graham Swift's Wish You Were Here is that rare thing: a novel that articulates the thought processes and language of the working classes without condescension or caricature. The slowly unfolding tragedy...is mesmerizing and deeply melancholy, opening out into a `condition of England' parable that remains unsettling long after you've finished the book.' --Chris Moss's Novel of the Year, Time Out
On an autumn day in 2006, on the Isle of Wight, Jack Luxton, former Devon farmer and now the proprietor of a seaside caravan park, receives the news that his soldier brother Tom, not seen for years, has been killed in Iraq. For Jack and his wife Ellie this will have a potentially catastrophic impact. For Jack in particular it means a crucial journey—to receive his brother’s remains, but also into his own most secret, troubling memories and into the land of his and Ellie’s past. Wish You Were Here is both a gripping account of things that touch and test our human core and a resonant novel about a changing England. Rich with a sense of the intimate and the local, it is also, inescapably, about a wider, afflicted world. Moving towards an almost unbearably tense climax, it allows us to feel the stuff of headlines—the return of a dead soldier from a foreign war—as heart-wrenching personal truth. Praise for Graham Swift’s previous work ‘Perfectly controlled, superbly written. Waterland is original, compelling and narration of the highest order’ Guardian ‘This beautifully balanced novel describes the arrangements, accommodations, pacts and treaties of our ordinary lives’ The Times ‘Last Orders confirms his reputation as one of the great contemporary chroniclers of landscape and memory’ Observer ‘Not a book the reader is likely to forget, Out of this World deserves to be ranked at the forefront of contemporary literature’ New York Times Book Review ‘Swift’s central strength as a writer is his integrity. Story and character are treated with a seriousness and respect that while allowing for the oddity of human behaviour – Shuttlecock is thoroughly and beautifully odd – always honours them’ TLS ‘Swift’s essays display the same quiet intensity as his fiction, a capacity for subtle storytelling with dark emotional undercurrents’ Financial Times ‘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 Standard