Graham Swift’s extraordinary masterpiece—a finalist for the Booker Prize—WATERLAND weaves together eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the heartless sweep of history and a family romance as tormented as Greek tragedy into one epic story.
In the flat, watery Fen Country of East Anglia, a passionate history teacher named Tom Crick is being forced into early retirement from the school where he has taught for thirty years. When a student rebelliously questions the value of the subject to which Tom has devoted his life, Tom responds with his own personal retrospective. His story—intertwined with the stories of the local wetlands, the French Revolution, and World War II, among other things—throws light onto the dark circumstances of the current day, revealing how his wife’s tragic youth led to the events surrounding his forced retirement. A monumental tribute to the past, a gripping multigenerational family saga, and a powerful affirmation of the history of self, this exceptional novel illuminates the cycles of time in which we live.
Book Jacket Status: Jacketed
Introduction by Tim Bunding
“Waterland appropriates the Fens as Moby-Dick did whaling or Wuthering Heights the moors—a beautiful, serious, and intelligent novel, admirably ambitious and original.” —The Observer
“A formidably intelligent book—animated by an impressive, angry pity at what human creatures are capable of doing to one another in the name of love and need.” —The New York Review of Books
“Swift spins a tale of empire-building, land reclamation, brewers and sluice-minders, bewhiskered Victorian patriarchs, insane and visionary relicts . . . A book of strange, insidious, unsettling power.” —Books and Bookmen
“Teems with energy, fertility, violence, madness . . . Demonstrates the irrepressible, wide-ranging talent of this young British writer.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Extraordinary . . . A personal book, a book that speaks to the innermost core of the reader . . . Waterland is history, it is exploration. Waterland is geography, lineage. It is commerce, decline and fall, the industrial revolution (the French one, too, with heads lopped off) and, like everything around us, it bears the scars of the two great wars of the twentieth century. It is family saga, family secrets, love, licit and otherwise; it is, above all, an exploration into what it is, this history thing, that affects us all, your history, mine, ours.”
—from the Introduction by Tim Binding