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The Light of Dayby Graham Swift
"The Light of Day takes up many of the same questions as Swift's earlier work. Do people die for love, and if so what are the consequences for those whom they leave behind? Can we choose to fall in and out of love, or are we inevitably overcome by forces beyond our control? But the book restricts itself to a much more shallow scope, and so it seems to strain for the sort of operatic intensity that once was natural." Ruth Franklin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
The Light of Day combines a powerful love story and a narrative of intense suspense into a brilliant and tender novel about what drives people to extremes of emotion. As in his Booker-winning novel Last Orders, Swift transforms ordinary lives through extraordinary storytelling.
This new novel from Graham Swift — his first since the Booker Prize-winning Last Orders — is the work of a master storyteller. The Light of Day is a luminous and gripping tale of love, murder and redemption.
George Webb is a divorced ex-policeman turned private investigator, a man whose prospects seemed in ruins not so long ago. Following the course of a single, dazzling day in George’s life, the novel illuminates not only his past but his now all-consuming relationship with a former client.
Intimate and intricate in its evocation of daily existence, The Light of Day achieves a singular intensity and almost unbearable suspense. Tender and humorous in its depiction of life’s surface, Swift explores the depths and extremities of what lies within us and how, for better or worse, it’s never too late to discover what they are.
Excerpt from The Light of Day
Two years ago and a little more. October still, but a day like today, blue and clear and crisp. Rita opened my door and said, “Mrs. Nash.”
I was already on my feet, buttoning my jacket. Most of them have no comparisons to go on — it’s their first time. It must feel like coming to a doctor. They expected something shabbier, seedier, more shaming. The tidy atmosphere, Rita’s doing, surprises and reassures them. And the vase of flowers.
White chrysanthemums, I recall.
“Mrs. Nash, please have a seat.”
I could be some high-street solicitor. A fountain-pen in my fingers. Doctor, solicitor — marriage guidance counsellor. You have to be a bit of all three.
The usual look of plucked-up courage, swallowed-back hesitation, of being somewhere they’d rather not be.
“My husband is seeing another woman.”
"Graham Swift's new novel, The Light of Day, reads not like a hard-boiled detective tale but like a — well, like a Graham Swift novel....The mood and tone of the book are decidedly Larkinesque: a fog of disappointment and regret wafts over the characters, muffling their actions and suffocating their dreams." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Although the story takes place entirely within the mind of one character, Swift generates remarkable tension, using the very dailiness of Webb's memories...to bring a powerful immediacy to the events of his past and his dreams of the future....A remarkable feat of storytelling by one of our most accomplished novelists." Bill Ott, Booklist
"The Light of Day is filled with intelligent meditations on everything from the frustrations of talking to the dead to the magical properties of dreaming in prison. Yet the meandering nature of the detective's narration seems coy and artificial, and too often our involvement is interrupted by a flicker of impatience." The New Yorker
"With The Light of Day, Graham Swift distills emotion and incident into a hypnotic elixir. He is simply one of the most sure-handed, savvy and remarkable writers now at work....Painstaking meditation and deft storytelling, novels of the mind and the senses in equal measure, are what I have come to expect...from Graham Swift. He is a writer of immense gifts." Howard Norman, The Washington Post
"While individual scenes...are expertly rendered, the story feels somewhat hobbled by its narrator's cautious spirit....It is difficult to reconcile the fact of so much writerly achievement with the feeling that the novel is somewhat underpowered....The pages turn, but the pulse never quickens." Anthony Quinn, The New York Times Book Review
George Webb is a divorced ex-policeman turned private investigator, a man whose prospects seemed ruined not so long ago. Following the course of a single, dazzling day in his life, this novel illuminates not only his past but also his now all-consuming relationship with a former client.
About the Author
Graham Swift was born in 1949 in London. He is the author of six previous novels and a short story collection. His work has been widely translated and has won prizes internationally, including the Booker Prize for Last Orders.
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