It seemed that last orders had been called too late for Graham Swift following his win; during a somnolent radio interview the following day he confessed to having ‘a massive hangover’.

A quietly unassuming novel about four friends disposing of the ashes of another of their group seemed an uncontroversial winner. Several months later, however, an Australian academic noted numerous similarities between Last Orders and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.

Even though Swift, long before, had expressed his admiration for Faulkner’s work and admitted to ‘a little homage at work’ in his own novel, one of the judges, A.N. Wilson, thought the panel had ‘been made to look pretty silly’.

Graham Swift
Published by
Sorrow and resentment mingle with passion and regret in Graham Swift’s Booker Prize-winning testament to a changing England and to enduring mortality.

The Shortlist

Last Orders
Prize winner
Alias Grace
The Orchard on Fire
A Fine Balance

The 1996 judges