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Last Orders

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  10,024 Ratings  ·  347 Reviews
Four men once close to Jack Dodds, a London butcher, meet to carry out his peculiar last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. For reasons best known to herself, Jack's widow, Amy, declines to join them. On the surface the tale of a simple if increasingly bizarre day's outing, Last Order is Graham Swift's most poignant exploration of the complexity and courage of ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 7th 2001 by Picador (first published January 1st 1996)
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Paul Bryant
Feb 18, 2016 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, novels
Scene : the smoke room at the Bag of Grandmas, Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, East End, London.

Three novelists are propping up the bar and grouching.

Ian McEwan : My Booker Prize is bigger than yours.

Julian Barnes : No it fucking isn’t, they’re all the same size.

Ian McEwan : No they’re not, they make em bigger if they think it’s a better fucking work of literature.

Graham Swift : No they don’t

Ian McEwan : Yes they do, if Shakespeare has won it his’d be as big as the London Fucking Eye. Salman Rushdi
Jul 22, 2011 Tony rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
This begins: “It ain’t like your regular sort of day.” Not exactly “Call me Ishmael” but you have to start somewhere. A little workshoppy, but there’s some promise there. Perhaps it could turn into a one-day, colloquial journey through themes and characters.

But then again, maybe not. In a few brisk chapters we have encountered (the word met suggests more purchase than we are given) Ray, Jack, Sue, Sally, Vince, Vic, Lenny, Amy, Bernie, Brenda, Joan, Mandy, Carol and Charlie. Was there any need t
Elizabeth (Alaska)
My negative for this is largely due to my own lack of knowledge rather than the work itself. I think if I had been familiar with London and its environs my appreciation would be greater. It begins in Bermondsey. A Google search tells me it is one of the oldest areas of south London, but even that doesn't tell me what I think locals would know. From the story, I gather it is more of a working class neighborhood - but I gathered that from reading, not from foreknowledge. Foreknowledge would have b ...more
Jan 05, 2012 Frederick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, swift-graham
I won't describe the plot here. You can find that in the Goodreads description. I will make some observations, among them my idea that, whether by design or not, LAST ORDERS is Joycean. It is also accessible. The reason I think it may not be a conscious imitation of Joyce is that I suspect Joyce, fundamental innovator though he was, wrote in a tradition. Somebody once said you could go to any bar in Dublin and hear the sort of conversations you'd read in ULYSSES. Graham Swift's Englishmen (and w ...more
Jane Odgers
Nov 07, 2011 Jane Odgers rated it liked it

Jack Arthur Dodds (deceased) - "Dodds and Son Family Butcher, since 1903".
Vince Dodds (Vincent Ian Pritchett) - "son" of Jack and Amy. "Dodds' Autos"
Ray "Lucky" Johnson - "...if you want to put a bet on, he's your man".
Lenny Tate, Grocer - "Gunner Tate, middleweight. Always pissed. Always late".
Vic Tucker, Funeral Director - " your disposal".
Amy Dodds - Jack's wife, mother of June (mentally disabled). " was hop picking that started it....It's all pickings."
Mandy Black -
Oct 30, 2010 Kerfe rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
"I'd like to be all kinds of people....but I can't because I'm me....I don't want to be like me, I want to be like them but I can't I can't I can't."

It took me about one third of the book to straighten out the characters in my mind. I was thinking I should go back and re-read the beginning, but now I think it was better that all the stories were jumbled and then clarified. Or somewhat clarified. The characters themselves have not sorted out their relationships or their pasts either.

Each short ch
Sunaina Khurana
Aug 21, 2012 Sunaina Khurana rated it it was ok
Meh. Don't get me wrong. The writer is really good. He has to be to be able to get into the skin of so many characters and portray them so distinctively. The plot is interesting too ... or could've been, if it were less convoluted with so many breaks for each character's narrative. But that's just it. It took me halfway down the book to get a grip on the story and the way it ended left me wondering what the point was. And throughout I couldn't wait to get over with it to go on to the next book. ...more

Upon reading the premise, I remember that the film has been watched:

Dedication: For Al

Opening quotes:

But man is a Noble Animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave. Urn Burial by Sir Thomas Browne.

I do like to be beside the seaside. John A. Glover-Kind

Opening: It ain't like your regular sort of day.
Ravi Gangwani
Different lives, different rules!
1996 Booker Prize Winner.
And Worst Booker Winner ever for me.

I would say during 1996 one of the judges named A L Kennedy was very upset with result and she said Booker as 'Crooked pile of non-sense' and after reading this (And also applicable only to this book as per my experience) and I understand her frustration.

This is nothing but just a story of a dead man who last wish to scatter his ashes in sea has been carried out by his friends. I think the voice are i
May 14, 2016 Bruce rated it really liked it
Influenced by William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, this novel was criticized by some reviewers as too derivative to deserve the Booker Prize it was awarded. I find that criticism irrelevant, since many authors are influenced by the works of other writers, and in this case the book stands well on its own. It is the story of a small group of friends, drinking buddies and neighbors, who take the ashes of one of them from London to Margate to throw them into the ocean, in accordance with the wishes of ...more
Jul 09, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have been disappointed with Booker Award winners in the past, but this winner from 1996 was deeply satisfying to me.

My only reason for not giving it five stars is that I felt it was harder than it needed to be to learn the identities and backgrounds of the main characters and keep track of the time hopping that went on, even though I know that was a key to the novel's construction.

The story is built around a last wish by butcher Jack Dodds that his ashes be scattered off the end of Margate Pie
Thomas Edmund
Jun 02, 2016 Thomas Edmund rated it it was amazing
Last Orders is a strange one for a Booker Prize. Somehow its both hard and easy to read, deep and shallow, simple and convoluted. My book club and I decided this was probably intentional. While many parts of the tail are almost soap opera-like many parts cut much deeper, all while with a humourous bent and plain language.

The books blurb is fairly explanatory but one note I will make is there is very little war in this book. One could be forgiven for expecting a harrowing tale similar to the Long
محمد المرزوقي

رواية بسيطة مخادعة وتحكي قصة اربعة رجال يحملون رماد صديقهم المتوفي معهم اثناء رحلة تجمعهم وخلالها يقوم كل واحد منهم برواية قصته
استخدام بارع للغة في ايصال كل قصة بطريقة شيقة وجذابة ، الكثير من القصص ستروى علاقاتهم الرومانسية مع النساء واخفاقهم في العديد من هذه القصص

انها سهلة القراءة، ولكن يجب عليك قراءة الصفحات ال 50 الأولى بدون توقف وإلا ستصاب بالحيرة حول الكثير من الامور وستضطر إلى إعادة قراءة العمل من جديد
. العلاقات معقدة ومتشابكة ومليئة الخداع وخيبة الأمل

ذكرتني بقصة فيلم من ألف الى باء و
carri farrand
May 24, 2007 carri farrand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
let's stop in for a pint. jack would've wanted it. jack would've expected it.

Jul 03, 2011 lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me cry. Seriously. So you know that it is going straight to the list of best reads of the year. For real. Which is surprising because the narrative structure of the book is one that I typically don't like. The story is told from a multiperspectival point of view, with chapters being named for the person who is narrating that chapter, or, from where the events in the chapter are taking place, in which case Ray is the narrator. This isn't my favorite narrative style, but for this st ...more
Aug 30, 2014 Rob rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
We live in the present and the past. I have only realized the last few years that time is not linear. We are constantly dipping in and out of the past, the present and the future. We are living it all at the same time.

Graham Swift has written a complex book that tries to blend this truth with the other truth that "our" stories are not solely ours. We are part of history, of communities and families. Our inner worlds bump up against others and our inner worlds are shaped by historical forces.

Jan 16, 2016 Nikki rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure I can find a fault in this novel. I didn't expect to love book about crazy old people on mission to scatter the ashes of their deceased friend, but I did. All different POVs, thoughts, history, troubles going way back into their youth, lives never lived to the fullest, failures and wrong choices are what can happen to every one of us. Story of missed chances, having no choice, or making a wrong one, being happy with who you have been all your life and questioning whether that person ...more
May 12, 2012 Kristin rated it it was ok
I feel the need with this review to point out that my rating has to do with how much I enjoyed the book/how much I got out of it rather than how I would rate the book as a piece of literature, capable of standing the test of time, etc. This is a technically accomplished novel, interesting characterization, but it just didn't do it for me. It was too straightforward with the narrative to interest me on that score and the characters created, while feeling quite true to life with all their faults a ...more
Kasa Cotugno
I had to reread this for my book club, and chose the audio version. I also cheated, looked up the cast of the movie on imdb, and thus was able to more closely identify the characters, as there are numerous first person accounts. Thus, the book really fell into focus for me, the narrators' stories packed more of a punch.
I actually enjoyed the short chapters told from different points of view. In fact, there was one really funny, really short chapter. Sadly, I also felt that the book, despite its excellent tone and prose was about 125 pages too long.
Tudor Ciocarlie
Mar 07, 2011 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it liked it
Unfortunately I couldn't connect to this book..the language, the words, the English working class just could not engage with my 2011's mind in any way.
Gumble's Yard
Jan 08, 2017 Gumble's Yard rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
The plot of this novel can be seen in other reviews on this site, or more comprehensively at

I came to this novel having last year read my first two Graham Swift novels, the strong Waterland and the excellent Mothering Sunday, one of my top 20 novels of 2016, but wary in case this was another of the right author, wrong book phenomenon associated with the Booker prize.

Unfortunately I think its a classic example (at least with the benefit of hindsight)

Ryan Williams
Jan 15, 2017 Ryan Williams rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 22, 2016 James rated it really liked it
This is Swift's Booker Prize-winning novel from 1996. Some have noted similarities between it and Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, but that does not detract from its quality which has been evident in Swift's writing since his earlier success with Waterland (a novel that was short-listed for the Booker). While I found it a bit slow at first, it eventually evolved into a captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after ...more
Jan 27, 2015 Jacquelin rated it liked it
Last Orders is a seemingly simple story about very complex relationships. Jack Dodds has made a last request to have his ashes scattered at sea. The novel takes us through that day as Jack's friends gather in the pub and set off to fulfill his wishes. Over the course of the day, we learn about their friendships interwoven with individual and collective stories.

I was caught off-guard by the subtlety and layers of the characters. The dialogue was remarkably nuanced with all the subtext you would
Mar 26, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: keeper, second-hand
As with Waterland, Swift has, again, bypassed my brain and gone straight for my heart; that is, I felt this rather than understood it. And, as with Waterland, I'd feel dishonest giving it four stars but don't doubt that it'll get there on a second reading. He has a real talent for making the mundane beautiful.

I have been close to encountering this story twice in my life. I distinctly remember nearly buying it back in the 90's based purely on the (pint glass) cover, but this was probably more due
An apparent homage to Faulkner's 'As I lay Dying', a long drawn out funeral entourage is used to outline in falshback the entangled lives of a group of Londoners and their relationship with the dead man, Jack Dodds, whose ashes they are carrying to be scattered on the sea at Margate.
The writng style is plain, reflecting the austerity of the post war setting of a lot of the reminiscence. The story is engaging and was made into a star studded film and yet someting about the book does not quite wo
Jayne Charles
Feb 20, 2012 Jayne Charles rated it liked it
This book follows three old codgers and a slightly younger old codger on a pilgrimage to Margate to scatter their late friend's ashes in the sea according to his wishes. I could almost hear Chas and Dave playing along in the background as I read it. It managed to fuse a colloquial narrative with an unashamedly literary style and the overall result was pretty good. Though the viewpoint shifted with each chapter, and the story jumped around in space and time, it was usually easy to work out what w ...more
I listened to the amazing audiobook version of this (on cassette, no less). Multiple narrators helped to make the frequently-shifting perspectives easier to keep track of while listening. I don't know that one narrator could have really managed it. The book centers on a group of men (and a couple of wives given occasional voice) as they travel together to release the ashes of one of their own. The perspective shifts between the characters and the time frame shifts between the present-day journey ...more
Nov 07, 2014 Monica rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful elegant, so real. The story moves back and forth between past and present, from character to character. Most of the time, for me, this doesn't work very well. It takes a talented writer to be able to pull this off so that the reader can follow along without confusion and so the story doesn't break up and fall apart. Graham Swift is a success in every way. He beautifully captures the feelings, thoughts, and dreams of each and every character. The relationships betwe ...more
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Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born May 4, 1949) is a British author. He was born in London, England and educated at Dulwich College, London, Queens' College, Cambridge, and later the University of York. He was a friend of Ted Hughes.

Some of his works have been made into films, including Last Orders, which starred Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and Waterland which starred Jeremy Irons. Last Orders was a
More about Graham Swift...

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“It makes you feel sort of cheap and titchy. Like it's looking down at you, saying, I'm Canterbury Cathedral, who the hell are you?” 1 likes
“What job do you want to do?
And I see them all hanging up before me, like clothes on a rack, all the jobs, tinker, tailor, soldier, and you have to pick one and then you have to pretend for the rest of your life that that's what you are. So they aint no different really from accidents of birth. I didn't know that phrase then but I learnt it later. It's a good phrase...”
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