Here We Are: A novel (Hardcover)
In his newest novel, acclaimed author Graham Swift marries the erratic devastations of reality with the elusive probability of magic under the lights of vaudeville, a story of delicate illusions where what one chooses to believe can unearth the most revealing connections.
It's the summer of 1959, and something magical can be witnessed at the end of the pier in beach town Brighton, England. Jack Robbins, Ronnie Deane, and Evie White are performing in a seaside variety show, starring as Jack Robinson the compere comedian, and The Great Pablo and Eve: a magic act. By the end of the summer, Evie's glinting engagement ring will be flung to the bottom of the ocean and one of the trifecta will vanish forever.
All three friends begin their path toward the end of Brighton's pier early in life. Evie and Jack's mothers always trumpeting the support that is trademark of stage mothers, while Ronnie's mother sends her son out in the child evacuations to Penny and Eric Lawrence for safety from the London blitz. It's within the safety and love of Evergrene, the Lawrences' estate, that magic creeps into Ronnie's life for the first time and starts the intricate intertwining of fate, chance, and show business.
Magic and reality share the stage in this masterly and devastating story that pulls back the curtain on the power of love, family, and the touchstones of our memories.
About the Author
GRAHAM SWIFT was born in 1949 and is the author of ten novels; two collections of short stories; and Making an Elephant, a book of essays, portraits, poetry and reflections on his life in writing. With Waterland he won The Guardian Fiction Award, and with Last Orders the Booker Prize. Both novels have since been made into films. His work has appeared in more than thirty languages.
“A magical piece of writing: the work of a novelist on scintillating form . . . As enthralling as anything that will be published this year . . . The book wonderfully captures the experience of evacuation during the second world war. It’s also a profoundly important story to tell in its own right . . . I don’t know quite how Swift does it.”—Barney Norris, The Guardian
“The book’s power comes precisely from the fact that it performs its magic in front of your eyes, leaving nowhere to hide . . . You wonder how he does it.”—Oliver Hurst, Financial Times
“A haunting read . . . Pitch-perfect . . . The compactly brilliant Mothering Sunday watched belated aftereffects of the First World War painfully working themselves out in 1924. A kind of companion piece, Here We Are watches consequences of the Second World War still cruelly making their presence felt . . . With a wizardry of his own, Swift conjures up an about-to-disappear little world and turns it into something of wider resonance.”—Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times
“Here We Are is a subtle portrait of a vanished world . . . Moving.”—Martin Chilton, The Independent
“Graham Swift is one of Britain’s finest and most understated writers . . . None of his earlier books strays as deeply into the farther realms of the extraordinary as this latest work . . . Here We Are is not a fat novel, but it is a richly rewarding one, every line playing its part. The variety of voices and its historical and emotional reach are so finely entwined, it is as perfect and smooth as an egg. Passages leap out all the time, demanding to be reread, or committed to memory . . . Here We Are is not about authorship in any obvious way, yet it is as profound a contemplation of the skills and perspective the novelist’s calling demands as any writer’s manual or memoir . . . Swift gives a lesson in sleight of hand, artistic control and the gear-changes involved in the slow and startling reveal . . . It is perhaps too simple to say that Swift creates a form of fictional magic, but what he can do with a page is out of the ordinary, far beyond most mortals’ ken.”—Rosemary Goring, The Herald (Scotland)
“Swift has been turning out literature of wit, intelligence and insight for a remarkable 40 years [and] has never lost his footing . . . Here We Are is a welcome addition to a proud legacy.”—Jane Graham, Big Issue
“A quietly devastating, magical novel . . . Swift’s prose is restrained but emotionally charged . . . Mothering Sunday was quite possibly the loveliest book I’ve ever read. Here We Are is in elegiac mode once more.”—Francesca Carington, The Telegraph
“Graham Swift has never written anything that wasn’t interesting and pleasing. He is powerful in an always understated way.”—Alan Massie, The Scotsman