D J Taylor

Revelation Before Dawn

Tomorrow

By

Picador 248pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The Light of Day (2003), Graham Swift’s last outing, was a singularly unhappy book. The unhappiness derived from several sources: drab subject matter, drab treatment, but most of all the feeling of an author weighed down and made almost wretched by the very act of composition. Seven years in the writing, the novel seemed to have had all the meat stripped from its bones by the endless process of revision to which it had clearly been subjected. Although narrated by a private detective, and involving marital strife and homicide, it had no mystery, as both crime and criminal were identified almost from the start. Worse, the trick Swift had pulled off so successfully in the Booker-winning Last Orders (1996) – assembling fragment upon fragment of ‘ordinary’ speech and extracting a genuine poetry from the result – now seemed beyond him. The narrative voice in The Light of Day was simply flat, and when it stopped being flat it was because Swift had beautified it to the point where it could no longer be associated with its narrator.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,
    • In this month's 'Silenced Voices', looks at the case of Azimjon Askarov, the journalist and human rights… ,