Here We Are

Here We Are

By Graham Swift
208 pages
October 2020


In his newest novel, acclaimed author Graham Swift marries the erratic devastations of reality with the elusive probability of magic under the lights of vaudeville, a story of delicate illusions where what one chooses to believe can unearth the most revealing connections.

It's the summer of 1959, and something magical can be witnessed at the end of the pier in beach town Brighton, England. Jack Robbins, Ronnie Deane, and Evie White are performing in a seaside variety show, starring as Jack Robinson the compere comedian, and The Great Pablo and Eve: a magic act. By the end of the summer, Evie's glinting engagement ring will be flung to the bottom of the ocean and one of the trifecta will vanish forever.
     All three friends begin their path toward the end of Brighton's pier early in life. Evie and Jack's mothers always trumpeting the support that is trademark of stage mothers, while Ronnie's mother sends her son out in the child evacuations to Penny and Eric Lawrence for safety from the London blitz. It's within the safety and love of Evergrene, the Lawrences' estate, that magic creeps into Ronnie's life for the first time and starts the intricate intertwining of fate, chance, and show business.
     Magic and reality share the stage in this masterly and devastating story that pulls back the curtain on the power of love, family, and the touchstones of our memories.

“Graham Swift appreciates the transcendent artistry of small works perfectly performed. His slim new novel transports us to a seaside theater in Brighton, England, during the summer of 1959 . . . This stylish narrator keeps the story sliding along so quickly that you’ll barely notice his sleight of hand . . . With a sigh, Swift captures the tragicomedy of human life." —Ron Charles, Washington Post

“A beautiful new novel . . . Here We Are is fiction for the thinking person, for the reader who notices details and patterns. It is also a strangely emotional work . . . And this book itself is a work of magic: neither trick nor illusion, but a flash of truth . . . Rather in the manner of James Joyce or Virginia Woolf, Swift composes his fiction like a musical composition. Like them too, he is intently concerned with history: the forward and backward movement of individual lives in time, played out against the backdrop of seismic social change.” —Brooke Allen, Wall Street Journal

“A paragon of the magic of compressed narration . . . Don’t be fooled by the deceptive simplicity of Here We Are, which at first appears to be a light little story about a love triangle between three variety show performers in seaside Brighton, England in 1959 [but] turns out to be about nothing less than life’s frequently baffling illusions and transformations . . . Once again, Swift has demonstrated wizardry in his ability to conjure magic out of ordinary lives.” Heller McAlpin, NPR

“Swift’s closing account of a mundane world momentarily pierced by a shaft of numinous mystery is magnificent. It is what he did so brilliantly in Waterland . . . How delightful it is, then, to see a glimpse of that other Graham Swift—flamboyant, luxurious, outrageous even—back before our very eyes.” —Kathryn Hughes, New York Times Book Review