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Extended Audio Sample Wish You Were Here, by Graham Swift Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (355 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Graham Swift Narrator: John Le Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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On an autumn day in 2006, on the Isle of Wight, Jack Luxton, former Devon farmer and now the proprietor of a seaside caravan park, receives the news that his soldier brother, Tom, not seen for years, has been killed in Iraq.

For Jack and his wife, Ellie, this will have a potentially catastrophic impact. For Jack in particular it means a crucial journey—to receive his brother’s remains, but it is also a journey into his own most secret, troubling memories and into the land of his and Ellie’s past.

Wish You Were Here is both a gripping account of things that touch and test our human core and a resonant novel about a changing England. Rich with Graham Swift’s love of the local and full of humor and tenderness in the face of tragedy, it is also, inescapably, about a wider, afflicted world. Moving toward an almost unbearably tense climax, it allows us to feel the stuff of headlines—the return of a dead soldier from a foreign war—as heart-wrenching personal truth.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Swift weaves a story which is as much a lament for a vanished way of life as an attack on the madness of modernity. With unmistakable echoes of Thomas Hardy and E. M. Forster, he portrays a rural England that is no longer merely under threat, but has been comprehensively vanquished.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “Like its predecessors, most notably Waterland and Last Orders, Wish You Were Here is a book of quiet emotional integrity…The novel expertly explores the poignant contrast between irrepressible human hope and the constraints within which we live our finite lives.”

    Times (London)

  • Wish You Were Here is a work of wide, ambitious span…Recounted in pages of affecting, powerfully sober prose…What gives [the novel] a compelling hold is Swift’s real strength, the authenticity that hallmarks his portrayals of people in crisis.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “The true strength of this book…is Swift’s ability to capture the exquisite poignancy of certain moments: how the memory of a dog’s old blanket on a bed, or the wrinkles on his mother’s wrist as she pours him a cup of tea, open a world of loss for a block of a man who’s never cried, not even in front of his wife.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Novelists, being on the whole brainy people, like to write about brainy people, or make their characters better with words than they would be in real life…But as Swift’s novels so brilliantly prove, just because someone doesn’t have a way with words doesn’t mean they can’t experience deep emotion, or be powerfully moved by the forces of history and time…I doubt there is a better novelist than Swift for this kind of story.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • “An acutely observed, compelling read.”

    Daily Mail (London)

  • “It begins to read like a thriller…Here Swift parcels out information like an Agatha Christie detective…The pace quickens and quickens. Almost against your will you find yourself racing through Swift’s brief chapters.

    Express (London)

  • “Swift is as brilliant as ever on the potency of family myth…This novel is often astonishingly moving.”

    Sunday Express (London)

  • “Like Ian McEwan’s Saturday, or Sebastian Faulks’ A Week in December, this novel draws on events from the news pages…But this emotionally complex novel is not mere reportage…It is [Swift’s] most intimately revelatory novel yet…This is a profound and powerful portrait of a nation and a man in crisis that, for all its gentle intensity, also manages to be an unputdownable read.”

    Scotland on Sunday (Edinburgh)

  • “Booker Prize winner Swift is masterful in his penetrating evocation of the land Jack loves, the many languages a body can speak, and the cavernous unknown concealed beneath apparent intimacy. Brilliantly illuminating the wounded psyches of his characters, circling back to corral the secrets of the past while finding the timeless core within present conflicts, and consummately infusing this gorgeously empathic tale with breath-holding suspense, Swift tests ancient convictions about birthright, nature, love, heroism, war, death, and the covenant of grief.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “[A] powerful novel about the struggle to advance beyond grief and despair and to come to grips with the inevitability of change. Recommended for fans of Ian McEwan, Michael Ondaatje, and Kazuo Ishiguro, authors with a similar method of slowly developing an intense interior narrative.”

    Library Journal

  • “A novel as contemporary as international terrorism and the war in Iraq and as timeless as mortality, from one of Britain’s literary masters…Profound empathy and understated eloquence mark a novel so artfully nuanced that the last few pages send the reader back to the first few, with fresh understanding.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “There’s nothing flashy or flamboyant in Graham Swift’s finely wrought new novel, Wish You Were Here. Its pace is moderate, its tone restrained, but its elegiac mood, so wonderfully evoked by John Lee’s darkly lyrical reading, draws you into the life of Jack Luxton, the last of a dairy-farming family in rural England…You have a sense of this stolid man’s raw emotions, the ache his brother’s loss leaves, his regrets for all that might have been said, all the ‘ifs’ and ‘shoulds.’” 


  • “An extraordinary novel, the work of an artist with profound insight into human nature and the mature talent to deliver it.”

    Washington Post

  • “Exquisite…Beautifully made…[An] abundance of subtlety, tenderness, and fluid prose.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Vivid, emotionally raw…Swift is a writer who clearly revels in dialogue and nuance…Thoughtful and sensitive.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Mr. Swift’s writing is as strong as ever, recalling the descriptive beauty of his highly acclaimed Waterland and Booker Award-winning Last Orders.”

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • “A rich, stereoscopic portrait of the book’s hero, Jack Luxton…Swift knows that in reality we occupy a wealth of experiences, past and present, mundane and memorable. His strength in this fine novel is showing how all those experiences inescapably collide within us.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • A 2012 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Dede | 2/8/2014

    " I loved the slow measured way this novel developed. It reminded me somewhat of "Remains of the Day." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Julia | 12/15/2013

    " This is a sad, even tragic tale of dairy farmer in England and his unfortunate family. Repeatedly, family members attempt to find some happiness, only to have circumstances intervene and snatch it away. Although, at the end, Jack (the protagonist) seems to find some solace, I was unnerved by the feeling that his peace was fleeting. The writing was decent, and the unfolding of the story from present time and back into the past was done well and helped to define the characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Alison Smith | 12/9/2013

    " My first GS novel; it could just be my last. I found his recursive style of every nuance of thought & emotion quite tedious. Maybe I wasn't in the mood. I know its a 'good book', but I didn't enjoy it particularly & forced myself to finish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Patricia Wood | 12/2/2013

    " Very heavy, what most call "depressing" "

  • > Show All
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About the Author
Author Graham Swift

Graham Swift is the author of eight novels, including the Booker Prize–winning Last Orders and Waterland, which won the Guardian Fiction Award. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He lives in London.