Making an Elephant by Graham Swift

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Synopsis

In his first-ever work of nonfiction, Graham Swift—Booker Prize-winning author of Waterland and Last Orders—gives us a highly personal book: a singular and open-spirited account of a writer’s life.
 
Here Kazuo Ishiguro advises on how to choose a guitar; Salman Rushdie arrives for Christmas under guard; Caryl Phillips shares a beer with the author at a nightclub in Toronto. There are private moments with Swift’s father and with his own younger self, as well as musings—on history, memory, and imagination—that illuminate his work. As generous in its scope as it is acute in its observations, Making an Elephant brings together a richly varied selection of essays, portraits, poetry and interviews, full of insights into Swift’s passions and motivations, and wise about the friends, family and other writers who have mattered to him over the years.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Graham Swift

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Graham Swift is the author of five other novels, including the acclaimed Waterland, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Guardian Fiction Award. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He lives in London.
 
Published June 17, 2009 by Vintage. 418 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Making an Elephant

The New York Times

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“He said that the thing was that you had to quell it,” Mr. Swift writes, “crush it at once, as soon as it arose, give it no further space, otherwise you were lost.” And Mr. Swift notes, “Once you’ve played charades with the author of ‘The Satanic Verses’ or heard his imitation (not quite as good...

Jun 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Making an Elephant

The New York Times

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In his first work of nonfiction, the British novelist Graham Swift rewinds his works to chronicle his evolution as a writer.

Aug 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Making an Elephant

The Guardian

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But it is doubtful whether Swift has calculated how his personal reminiscences will appear to writers who are outside the literary world and long for the chance to publish.

Mar 28 2009 | Read Full Review of Making an Elephant

Publishers Weekly

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Opening with an early memory of disillusionment, Swift relates his early discovery that ""in good fiction, without any trickery, truth and magic aren't incompatible at all."" Subsequent chapters build on this seminal idea, particularly through discussions of model writers like Isaac Babel, dissid...

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Bookmarks Magazine

There are private moments with his father and with his own younger self, as well as musings on history, memory and imagination that illuminate the work of a writer who, in his fiction, regards it as “a mark of achievement” when his own voice and presence vanish into his characters.

A journ...

Mar 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Making an Elephant

Oprah.com

Reading novelist Graham Swift's first work of nonfiction, Making an Elephant , is pure indulgence—like hearing a favorite uncle tell tales of his marvelous youth.

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Artswrap

As a novelist Graham Swift delights in the possibilities of the human voice, imagining his way into the minds and hearts of an extraordinary range of characters.

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Spectator Book Club

‘Book for book,’ John Banville is quoted as saying on the cover of this one, ‘[Graham] Swift is surely one of England’s finest novelists.’ This may be Irish for ‘but of course he hasn’t written all that much’, though eight novels and a collection of short stories isn’t bad going and it would be o...

May 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Making an Elephant

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