| 11.7°C Dublin

Close

Premium

Here We Are: Booker winner's novella about love and magic in 1950s Brighton

Fiction: Here We Are

Graham Swift

Simon & Schuster, hardback, 208 pages, €21

Close

Graham Swift: exact and lyrical prose

Graham Swift: exact and lyrical prose

Getty Images

'Here We Are' by Graham Swift.

'Here We Are' by Graham Swift.

/

Graham Swift: exact and lyrical prose

Graham Swift's early books wore their experiments on their sleeve. The best among them, Waterland (1983), has aged well. Its postmodern devices - the non-chronological structure, the lengthy theoretical asides about history and narrative - may have been passé even then. Still, Swift's exact and lyrical prose about the fenlands places it in the vanguard of the now flourishing tradition of English landscape writing.

Swift has achieved similar success with other equally distinctive settings even as the experiments waned or got subtler: the journey from Bermondsey pub to the sea at Margate in Last Orders (1996) and the inter-war English country house of his much-admired previous book, Mothering Sunday (2016). Here We Are has many things in common with his last. It is, in its way, a book about working-class aspiration - and, in particular, the aspiration to self-expression.

Jane Fairchild, the orphaned maid in Mothering Sunday, finds her metier in literature via Treasure Island and Heart of Darkness, copies of which her employer lets her take out of his library. The characters in Here We Are have less exalted but no less artistic callings. This time around, we are in the late Fifties. Jack Robbins (stage name: Jack Robinson) is the compère of the show on Brighton Pier that features the illusionist Ronnie Deane (stage name: The Great Pablo) and his comely assistant Evie White (stage name: Eve).