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These twenty-five new stories mark Graham Swift’s return to the short form after seven acclaimed novels and confirm him as a master storyteller. They 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 via A&E; meet Holly and Polly who have come to their own Anglo-Irish understanding and Lily Hobbs, married to a shirt; Charlie and Don who have seen the docks turn into Docklands; Mr Wilkinson the weirdo next door; Daisy Baker who is terrified of Yorkshire; and Johnny Dewhurst, stranded on Exmoor.

Graham Swift steers us effortlessly from the Civil War to the present day, from world-shaking events to the secret dramas lived out in rooms, workplaces, homes. With his remarkable sense of place, he charts an intimate human geography. In doing so he moves us profoundly, but with a constant eye for comedy.

Binding these stories together is Swift’s grasp of the universal in the local and his 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, growing up, sex, ageing and death.

© Janus van den Eijnden

Graham Swift was born in 1949 and is the author of eleven novels, two collections of short stories, including the highly acclaimed England and Other Stories, and of Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. His most recent novel, Mothering Sunday, became an international bestseller and won The Hawthornden Prize for best work of imaginative literature. With Waterland he won the Guardian Fiction Prize, and with Last Orders the Booker Prize. Both novels were made into films. His work has appeared in over thirty languages.

More books from this author: Graham Swift