D J Taylor

They Finished Their Drinks and Left

The Soldier's Return

By

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Back in the early 1980s, in the depths of an Oxford winter, I remember trudging through the snow to attend something called the New College Fiction Symposium – a kind of brains trust featuring assorted luminaries of the form (notably Salman Rushdie and Michael Frayn) and chaired by Melvyn Bragg. These, younger readers may perhaps need reminding, were exciting times for the English novel. Midnight’s Children had just scooped the Booker. There was a feeling in the air that a certain kind of book (the Drabble and Amis K kind) was on the way out, and was being replaced by the Rushdie, Barnes and Amis M kind, and at the same time a suspicion that this transfer of power might be rather a good thing.

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