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Last Orders

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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 Orders is Graham Swift's most poignant exploration of the complexity and courage of ordinary lives.

296 pages, Paperback

First published January 29, 1996

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About the author

Graham Swift

64 books592 followers
Graham Colin Swift FRSL (born May 4, 1949) is an English 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 joint winner of the 1996 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and a mildly controversial winner of the Booker Prize in 1996, owing to the superficial similarities in plot to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Waterland was set in The Fens; it is a novel of landscape, history and family, and is often cited as one of the outstanding post-war British novels and has been a set text on the English Literature syllabus in British schools.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 657 reviews
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,178 reviews9,218 followers
June 21, 2018
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 Rushdie got his hollowed out and installed 15 rooms and a fucking swimming pool in it and he lives in it.

Graham Swift : He lives in his Booker Prize?

Julian Barnes: Mine isn’t as big as that but I did have to get a container lorry to get it back home. I thought they were all like that.

Ian McEwan : By the prickling of my balls something fucking horrible this way comes.


Ian McEwan : Hello, fellow novelist. I know an interesting fact about you. You never won the Booker Prize and we fucking did.

Julian Barnes : Also, we’re all over 6 foot 6 and we can hardly see you.

Graham Swift: Is that actually Martin Amis or is it a stain on the rug?

Martin Amis : Fuck off, I could have won the Booker Prize any time I wanted to, it’s so easy, it’s actually too easy, I wouldn’t wipe my arse with a Booker Prize.

Graham Swift: Well cheer up, you got on the short list, didn’t you. Get it? Short list? Short list?

GS, IM and JB laugh heartily.

Martin Amis : Well there’s no need for that. (Snivelling into a filthy handkerchief). And… and… (thinking hard) ---- anyway - I got my name into the title of a novel that won a Booker Prize! Yeah!

Ian McEwan : What was that? Martin Amis Ha Ha Ha?

Graham Swift : No, Martin Amis God He's Little!

Julian Barnes :… Well, Martin, we give up, which one has your name in it?

Martin Amis : The Famished Road! Ha – pretty clever hey?

Graham Swift : Too clever for us Martin. See, that’s why they don’t like you. That’s why they give us the prizes and not you.

Martin Amis : Bawwwww. You're not very nice to me!!


Well, enough ribaldry. I’m sure the real novelists don’t talk a bit like that. As for Last Orders, I didn’t even want to read it. Somebody left it on my shelf and it has a nice cover. I didn’t like it. It was boring. All these cor blimey working class cockerneys who use every tiresome handmedown wornout circumlocution and saying and turn of phrase – it was TV writing, Eastenders, except that always has several screechy plots going at once to keep you awake which Last Orders frankly didn’t. All those little secrets, a complex symphony of the unsaid, I couldn’t scrape up any enthusiasm. The only interesting aspect was that I found that Last Orders ran into a minor controversy when it came out in 1996 because it’s got the same overall storyline and it’s told in a similar way to As I Lay Dying, the brilliant 1930 William Faulkner novel. Some Booker judge said if only I’da known that at the time I wouldnta voted for it.

But I say don’t vote for it because it’s a drag not because of some notional plagiarism. I say that popular music rips off old songs all the time, sometimes with acknowledgement, sometimes not, and movies get remade, and versions are versioned – Clueless is Emma, for instance –– so authors should be able to do that too and sometimes do quite openly e.g. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley is King Lear – .

We should flay and mock our authors for the right sins not the wrong ones, and dullness is the one unforgivable transgression.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,397 reviews3,277 followers
November 24, 2021
Our time runs faster and faster…
First you count the years, the decades, then suddenly it’s hours and minutes.

We live and our time is slowly petering out. We pass away but to those who knew us we leave memories. And if these memories are good we will be remembered longer.
It evens out, because in one direction there’s what’s ahead and in another there’s the memory, and maybe there’s nothing more or less to it than that, it’s nothing more or less than what you should expect, a good thing between two bad things.

The present and the past are in collision and they are in union… And one day it’s time to pay debts.
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,367 followers
August 10, 2019
This uneventful novel was the Booker Prize winner of 1996. I glimpsed fleeting moments of literary excellence but the book's prosaic conversational style wasn't for me.
It also pained me to see ain't without its apostrophe on almost every page! Aint that annoying?
Profile Image for Ian.
704 reviews65 followers
December 29, 2021
I listened to the audiobook version of Last Orders. It’s a relatively unusual audiobook in having 5 narrators, one for each of the main characters – Ray, Vic, Lenny, Vince and Amy.

Amy is the widow of the recently departed Jack Dodds, who when he wasn’t running his butcher’s shop in Bermondsey, London, was a regular at his local pub. He had asked for his ashes to be scattered into the sea at the town of Margate in Kent. For various reasons Amy doesn’t want to do it, and the task falls to his adopted son Vince, along with Jack’s 3 elderly drinking buddies. The perspective changes between the 5 main characters although the principal narrator is Ray, who was a wartime comrade of Jack’s and his closest friend. He’s also a gambling man who follows horse racing closely, which is significant in the story. The dialogue is in Cockney dialect, something you might want to note if English is not your first language.

The author has created some strong characters, particularly I thought, Ray, Vince and Lenny. The last is a somewhat embittered individual who tends to provoke argument within the group. The 70-odd-mile road trip between central London and Margate turns into a bit of an expedition as our gang of four decide to make numerous detours and pit stops. Basically the death of Jack causes the others to reflect on their lives and their own mortality, and in some cases to re-evaluate their priorities. Four of the five have not had their troubles to seek. The exception is Vic, whose life has gone more smoothly than the others and who seems a generally contented man. In the novel, Lenny is resentful as he feels himself to be an outsider, but to me Vic seemed the one set apart from the others. The lives of the other four have all, in one form or another, been deeply entwined with Jack’s, and they’ve been messy. The actions of these characters haven’t always been admirable, but ultimately, I retained a sympathy for all of them. They made choices at a young age that determined how their lives turned out. As Ray says near the end, “It’s all a gamble.”
Profile Image for Kinga.
476 reviews2,158 followers
February 9, 2017
This was easily the least exciting Booker Prize winner I’ve ever read.
You know that other London all us new hipster Londoners never get to know? Even though we all live together, on the same streets, we are divided by our pubs. There are the new hipster pubs with craft beer and a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and then right next to them, there is an old man pub. The Weatherspoon’s kind of affair with a tatty carpet and a clientele that has known each other for decades.

If I ever end up in a pub like that, it’s by mistake or by some unforeseen circumstances. I’m ashamed to admit that I have little curiosity about the people there and usually just feel uncomfortable and want to leave. Those pubs are like little towns, every newcomer is an event in itself, though I’m sure the hostility is entirely imagined by me and due to my unchecked social anxiety. *

* I know there are many people that disagree with me entirely on this point and for some reason maintain that old man pubs are actually the best. This is irrelevant to this review.

“Last Orders” is an old man pub novel. And is just as thrilling. I’m told it is a tribute/remake/rip-off of As I Lay Dying by Faulkner. I can’t comment on that as I haven’t read any Faulkner at all but I feel Faulkner has to be better than this.

Other than being a pub novel, it’s a road trip novel with a group of friends driving to Margate to scatter the ashes of their late friend as per his last wish.
There is some plot, secrets are revealed, some sort of emotions are felt but everything really tastes like stale beer. Or like the idea of holidaying in Margate. My life has been so far more exciting than the stories of the characters and it’s not like there is anything quaint about them either. It’s a bunch of sad old men who look back on their lives, weighing their regrets and realising they too will die soon. They are also indistinguishable and it’s not helped by the fact that there is, for example, a Vic and a Vince.

(That is all not to say you can’t write an amazing book about a boring person, but for that I’d like to direct you to ‘This is How’ by MJ Hyland.)

I think the problem is actually not that they are boring but that they are not authentic. They are still like those figures I see when I quickly peek inside an old mans pub, some characters from a British sitcom from the 80s that’s all old London slang and zero substance. I didn’t buy the whole Sarf London vernacular – it feels forced. This is how I would make them talk (and I clearly know fuck all about South London vernacular despite living in Camberwell for three whole years).

There is also a film. Maybe it’s better.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,694 reviews1,479 followers
November 27, 2022
Last Orders, Graham Swift’s Booker Prize winner of 1996, is about four drinking buddies. In extension, we learn of their wives and children too. One of the four, Jack, dies of stomach cancer. In his will he asks that his ashes be thrown off the pier at Margate. Three of his buddies and his adoptive son agree to do this, but not his wife. Of course, you ask why. The book follows their one day outing from their place of residence, Bermondsey, London, to Margate on the coast. The time setting is the 1980s. The trip is taken in a borrowed Mercedes. It is a symbolic farewell to their friend, and as such their mood is both nostalgic and elegiac, but they are not without misgivings. We observe what they say to each other and how they relate to each other. We are privy to their thoughts. We learn of past events through flashbacks.

We are given many characters and divergent points of view. Characters are not introduced. That would be out of place since they all know each other. They are connected by family and are longtime friends. Three are war veterans, sharing common experiences of the war. Names are thrown around, making it difficult at the start, because we are not one of them and so don’t know who is who. There is a heavy use of vernacular. Although this too accurately mirrors the situation, again, comprehension is made more difficult. I did not understand all that was said. This is not made easier listening to the audiobook since the dialect is emphasized.

The difficulties I had with the large cast of unintroduced characters and the vernacular are countered by lyrical, atmospheric and descriptive writing. The wind battered Margate pier, the pub where the buddies drink and the hospital setting where Jack lies dying are accurately and movingly drawn.

If I were to read the book a second time, knowing now who is who, perhaps I would reach a clearer understanding of the characters’ motivations. First time around, I am left with guesses. I believe the author is saying something about the shallowness of people’s relationships. He is pointing an accusatory finger at how we treat one another, even those closest to us. We do what social mores tell us we should do without thinking through if this actually makes sense. The book’s message is I believe closely tied to why Jack’s wife refuses to take part in the outing.

The audiobook is narrated by a cast of five--Sandra Duncan, Phil Davis, Simon Slater, Gareth Armstrong and David Timson. The male narrators correspond to the four men on the day’s trip. Their narrations vary little, one from the other. They stress rather than play down the vernacular. Their intention is to give a dramatic performance. This is not to my liking. For me, this hampers understanding. Sandra Duncan narrates the women’s sections. She speaks clearly and does not overdo the dialect. I like her narration best. Unfortunately, her portion is small. I have rated the narration performance two stars. The narrators do a good job, but I prefer less of a performance. I prefer one reader over many.

*Waterland 4 stars
*Last Orders 3 stars
*Mothering Sunday 4 stars
Profile Image for لين Warie.
Author 3 books172 followers
July 4, 2018
رواية من القطع الثقيل، تبدأ صفحاتها باللعب بمشاعر القارئ منذ البداية حيث نصبت المترجمة فخها العاطفي والجاد في آنٍ في مقدمتها للقارئ ، وتبيان الجهد المبذول في الترجمة وعلاقتها الشخصية بالرواية.

ثم تأتي شخصيات الرواية لتسحبك إلى عالمها وأحلامها التي لم تتحقق وعيشهم على الحافة، يتمنون ما لغيرهم ويتجاهلون إصلاح مطبات حيواتهم الخاصة. يفنى العمر وتذهب بهم ريح بيرموندزي إلى لا مكان. وكل هذا يتكشّف وأكثر في رحلة لذرّ رماد صديقهم المتوفى حيث يواجهون رماده ورماد حيواتهم في ذات الوقت.

ما إن انتهت الصفحة الأخيرة حتى استقرت العاصفة التي صاحبت مراسم نثر الرماد ، انتقلت إلى صدري وعاثت فيه

الترجمة جادّة ومتقنة
Profile Image for Tony.
896 reviews1,480 followers
July 22, 2011
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 to introduce us to Bill, 150 pages in? 150 pages in and I have to furrow my brow to be certain who’s the mother, who’s the daughter, who’s married to whom, and who’s the dead guy. Workshoppy. Yes, I think that’s the appropriate word here. 150 pages in and you can tell that the dead guy wanted his ashes tossed by his friends. But they have to travel and they have to remember things about themselves, and about the dead guy. 150 pages in and you can already tell there looms some larger secret, but one that will be held just far enough away from us to drive us toward that teasing denouement, in lieu of, say, plot. 150 pages in … and I don’t really care anymore.

There was one scene where Ray's daughter tells him she is following some man half-way around the world to Australia. I felt Ray's loss. I know that ache. That is why "Old men get pissy eyes." But that moment was soon obscured by the next brief chapter where the reader must sift the pronouns to see just who it is he's writing about now.

I have reading friends who swear by Graham Swift. And the Booker people sure like him. I've tried 2 1/2 books and I give up.
Profile Image for Ellen.
352 reviews
April 16, 2010
What a beautiful, beautiful book. Graham Swift has got to be one of the greatest writers of our generation. This is not a large book, but one should take his time reading to savor his language, his great skill in crafting amazingly simple stories of everyday people. Swift brings his characters--in this book, butchers, junk dealers, used car salesmen, funeral directors, housewives--great dignity.

Four friends set out to scatter the ashes of a mutual friend, at his request. Not an original plot device, but Swift makes this small, sweet tale an interwoven poem about love and life and changes.

I listened to this book, and the readers on Audible were superb, but I think I might go back and actually read at least portions of the book, just to savor the written words on the page.
Profile Image for John Anthony.
721 reviews88 followers
April 27, 2017
Jack, a Butcher and propper up of the bar at his local (alongside his mates Raysy, Lenny, Vic and Vince, Jack's unofficially adopted son) dies. He wants his ashes scattered off Margate. His widow, Amy, passes the batton/urn to Jack's mates, who all have a soft spot for Amy. They set off from Bermondsey to Margate in Vince's flash car (he's a second hand car dealer and mechanic)for this purpose.

The story of their pilgrimage is endearingly human, sometimes tense, often funny, almost always full of emotion. Each of the main characters tells their stories throughout the book - a chapter here, a chapter there, until the reader has built up a picture of their lives and how they interact, or otherwise, with each other.

Well written, very human and enjoyable.
31 reviews
November 8, 2011

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 - "...at your disposal".
Amy Dodds - Jack's wife, mother of June (mentally disabled). "...it was hop picking that started it....It's all pickings."
Mandy Black - wife of Vince. "...a lassie from Lancashire".


This is a beautiful book. Beautifully written, beautifully controlled. It is about the ordinary lives of ordinary people, and the mixture of accident and circumstances which shapes such lives. Commonplace events, personal tragedies, laughter, love and death are all part of their shared memories. But faced with the blunt reality of death, these memories seem like small eddies in the flow of events which have brought them to this present moment. Could they have changed anything? Can they change anything now?

Last Orders shows Graham Swift writing at his best, and he well deserves the nomination for the Booker Prize. The atmosphere he builds up as the book progresses is one of thoughtful reverie, which I found so absorbing that I was irritated by anything which distracted me from the book and broke the spell. It is a simple story, simply told, but one which has great depths.

The story begins in an East London pub. And Jack Dodds, dead and alive, is present from the start right up to the final moment when his ashes are carried away by the wind at the end of Margate Pier. It is Jack's boxed ashes which bring his family and friends together in their favourite Bermondsy pub; and it is this heavy box and its contents which prompt their reminiscences on the car ride to the South Coast town of Margate. Shared memories overlap as the trip to Margate progresses, and in the forced intimacy of the car, old grudges re-surface and cause unexpected diversions. But finally, Jack's 'last orders' for the disposal of his ashes are carried out - more or less as he directed.

For various reasons, Ray was probably the closest of Jack's friends. And it is Ray's thoughts that we hear most frequently as we follow the inner and outer journeys of the various characters. Like the others, Ray speaks a vernacular which Swift captures subtly and skilfully, without tricks or exaggeration. For a page or two, the language struck me as strange, but it was soon so familiar that it seemed completely normal. Since I grew up close to this part of London, it was speech which was well known to me, and I felt that I knew these people and shared something of their background and histories. But Swift never makes his English setting or its history intrusive, so his people and their thoughts, actions and memories are simply human and, as such, are understandable to all.

In fact, the very ordinariness of the characters made it difficult, at first, for me to distinguish one voice from another, and I found myself checking the chapter headings to see who was speaking. Recognition grew from small accretions of signs as the story progressed, and very soon I was familiar with the particular character traits of particular speakers: Lenny's antagonism towards Vince, for example; Vince's obsession with cars; and Vic's dry, matter-of-fact view of life and death, and his odd sense of humour. Like other aspects of this book, the slow, simple approach added to the 'realness' of the story, rather as in one of Mike Leigh's films.

It would have been very easy for Swift to create vivid, distinctive characters, as he has done before, but his gentle, understated approach is an essential part of the gradual intensifying of atmosphere which he achieves so well. It invites us to contemplate the course of our own lives. And it is also completely consistent with the old butchers' wisdom that Jack Dodds, towards the end of the book, recalls for us, just as he heard it from his father. It is advice which I think Swift intends us all to apply to our lives:

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
April 12, 2022
This was a 1996 Booker Prize winner and I bought it when it came out and cracked it but wasn't into it then. Sometimes you read a book when you are ready? It's about a bunch of older guys tasked with spreading the ashes of their dead friend at the sea. We get to know them all along the way. We get to know why the wife didn't go along. And they spread said ashes. It's beautifully written. And now I am an older guy myself, having been to more funerals lately than weddings, but I still wasn't captivated by it.

I tried to remember all the funeral books and movies I could on the related subject: Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Big Chill and so on. More engaging than this book, imho. Oh, I know, apples and oranges. Swift is a fine writer, so my three stars is not to disrespect the Booker committee, but if you want to read someone who deliberately and hilariously disrespects the Booker committee about their choice of this book, read Paul Bryant's review.
Profile Image for Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac).
660 reviews586 followers
February 17, 2017
I loved this almost as much as Mothering Sunday. This one is very male-focused, populated by a group of bumbling, inarticulate, hard-drinking Londoners on a road trip to scatter their friend Jack's ashes, each man's grief complicated by tangles of Jack-related secrets. The polyphonic audio version is amazing. It took me a while to get into it, but the intensity gathered and gathered and cracked me wide open.
Profile Image for Frederick.
Author 7 books41 followers
January 6, 2012
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 women) are similar to Joyce's Dubliners because they come from essentially the same part of the world, if a half a century later. Also, if you want to hear British men actually talking in the way Joyce has men talk, listen to the bonus disc "Fly On The Wall" on the Beatles CD, LET IT BE NAKED. A casual conversation between them is heard as they noodle around on the piano and it is proof that Joyce's elaborate, punning dialogue was largely a representation of real speech. So: If Graham Swift's LAST ORDERS seems digressive and rambling to you and you've stopped reading it, take a second look. You'll notice that most little things in this book are expanded upon at some point and you'll also find yourself grasping seemingly impenetrable bits of slang. Then you will see that this book is as universal as any other when it comes to meditations on war, generations, life and death. And love.
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Alaska).
1,268 reviews411 followers
August 16, 2016
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 better informed me about the men who people this novel and more fully fleshed them.

That aside, I liked this story and the men as I came to know them. The chapters are voiced by the four men who take Jack Dodd's ashes to the sea and by his wife, Amy Dodd. The story begins It aint like your regular sort of day and takes place in that single day. Throughout the men (and Amy) talk about their lifelong relationship with Jack. The tone is entirely conversational in addition to the actual dialog. We aint here to do the honours and pay respects to Jack because he worked so hard on his own nature he turned into something else. We're here because he was Jack. The characterizations might not be as clearly defined as I might have wanted, but there are differences between them. I think many would find more humor in this than I did.

I was not as enamored of this as I was his Waterland, but I'm glad I read it. I've given it 4 stars, but it probably lies in the bottom quarter of that range.
Profile Image for Joy D.
1,776 reviews213 followers
January 6, 2023
As the story opens, Jack has died and four of his friends are gathered in a London pub to carry out his last wishes regarding scattering his ashes. This small group of characters reminisces about Jack, which leads them to musings about the past. We learn their backstories through flashbacks, along with facts about Jack’s life. It is told in an atmospheric way. The tone is wistful. It is a quiet and reflective story. It is not all that dynamic, but I enjoyed it and am glad I read it. This book won the Booker Prize in 1996.

Profile Image for Rob.
143 reviews35 followers
July 11, 2019
Ordinary people have deep lives.

We live in the present and the past. I have only realised the last few years that time is not linear. We are continually 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 historical forces shape our inner worlds.

So this is the story. A group of male friends, nearly all entering the home stretch of their lives, are carrying out the last wishes of their friend Jack. He wants his ashes scattered from the pier at Margate. They meet up at the pub and set out together for down at heel coastal town. How complicated can this story be?
Swift uses the device of entering each persons head to tell the story. Each character muses about his life and that of Jack's. They are all of a time and place. They are all Cockneys, while not precisely working class, they are certainly culturally that way inclined. Except for Jack's son Vince, they have all been through World War II. Some met in the army. Some lived across the street. They are of a time and place though, and while they have similar stoic attitudes towards life, they are all different but the same.

This device, while I understand why the author wants to do it, is also very confusing. The "voices' of the characters are not distinctive enough to not be confusing to even the most attentive reader.

The deep bonds of affectation, love and just plain old shared history that bind these characters lives together gives this book its integrity.

Profile Image for Debra .
2,198 reviews34.9k followers
March 21, 2014
This is one of those books where I could not decide if I like it until after I had finished reading it and thought about the book. It took me some time to get used to the language and Swift's style of writing. The book is told in various characters point of view. This actually was what I enjoyed most about the book. There are a lot of characters and people to keep track of. It took me some time to figure out who everyone was in relation to other characters in the book. In the end, I liked it but I didn't love it. I do think the title was clever. Last orders, most of the characters in this book are carrying out the Last Orders of their deceased friend (where to spread his ashes) while at the same time Last Orders is what is called at their favorite pub close to closing time.
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,746 reviews1,195 followers
May 17, 2019
The plot of this novel can be seen in other reviews on this site, or more comprehensively at http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-la...

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)

Although I enjoyed the book it did not reach the heights of the other two books, and as a Booker winner is very much middle ranking (neither an outstanding or a stinker).

Overall I found the book too sentimental, and although the Point of View chapter technique serves well to explore the small secrets, passions or resentments known peculiar to each character, it only highlights the interchangability of the main characters and the fundamental sameness of their backstories as well as the "voice" for each that Swift uses.

Having read the book I discovered there is a film adaptation and its telling that I could guess in advance and with almost complete accuracy the list of London "character" actors that would be cast.
Profile Image for Thomas Edmund.
896 reviews50 followers
June 3, 2016
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 Road to the Deep North, but the focus of Last Orders is on life before and after the war rather than experiences within.

Definitely worth a read, perhaps goes down in the record books for the shortest funniest chapter ever. Take a look you'll see what I mean.
Profile Image for Sunaina Khurana.
6 reviews31 followers
August 21, 2012
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. But its a fast read and you can get to it when you have nothing better to read. So to sum it up, Meh!
Profile Image for Ravi Gangwani.
210 reviews104 followers
December 31, 2016
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 indeed very genuinely clubbed in the book but main problem was difficulty in identifying who is who's who and who's who is who ? And in long battalion of characters it went so confusing that after page number 150 I actually checked the Wikipedia page of the book to check the relation between people. I rarely do it.

Still I found it tasteless.

Beautifully written, gently, funny, emotional, touching and profound - Salman Rushdie so this is first I don't agree with Sir Salman Rushdie in anything.
Profile Image for carri farrand.
12 reviews7 followers
May 24, 2007
let's stop in for a pint. jack would've wanted it. jack would've expected it.

Profile Image for Nikola Jankovic.
548 reviews107 followers
January 29, 2020
Desi se da mi se nimalo ne svidi neki nagrađeni roman. Nije to ni toliko retko. Ali obično mogu da shvatim zašto ga vole ljudi u komisiji. Kod Poslednje ture ne mogu. Ne vidim nijedan razlog da dobije Bukera.

Jedna prosečna priča o prolaznosti života, ispričana na ispodprosečan način, bez ikakvog stila, uz to i operisana od humora. Koliko puta možeš na jednu stranu nagurati "Džek kaže, Mendi kaže, Leni kaže, Vins kaže, kažem" (ovo su prepisani počeci 6 redova s početka knjige). A i to što sledi tim ponavljajućim rečima su potpuno obični dijalozi, kakve bi mogao čuti da sedneš par sati u prvo londonski pab na koji naletiš.
Profile Image for Sidharth Vardhan.
Author 23 books681 followers
August 9, 2016
Full of deceptively ordinary people with their little adventures, secrets and compromises, truths and lies, uninteresting lives and professions, and the very language hey speak in; 'Last Orders' brilliantly captures life few books ever manage to. Those are the people that you are likely to meet in your life - butchers, car dealers, insurance agents etc. The things they will do for their families and friends which show their character and courage will go unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Awesome as the book is, it is difficult to read - despite the very simple story. You want a character guide in your hand before you start it - book launches into story with out making any introductions to its characters. It doesn't help that the story is narrated by different characters and keeps on jumping back and forth in time.
Profile Image for George.
2,114 reviews
December 2, 2022
4.5 stars. An engaging character based novel about some ordinary, flawed people in England who knew Jack Dodds. Jack was a butcher who died from cancer. His friends, Ray Johnson, Lenny Tate, Vic Tucker and Vince Dodds decide to travel to the coast at Margate to scatter Jack’s ashes into the sea. Each character tells their stories as internal monologues and through their conversations. Jack, Lenny, Vic and Ray all served in the army during World War Two. They all wished for careers other than what they ended up doing and have troubled relationships with women.

Along with descriptions of the journey to Margate, we learn about each of the men and Amy Dodds, Jack’s wife, and Mandy Dodds, Jack’s foster daughter.

All the characters have interesting stories to relate about their lives.

Highly recommended.

This book was the 1996 Booker Prize winner.
Profile Image for Kristin.
213 reviews
May 12, 2012
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 and foibles, were not people I wanted to spend time with. I enjoy books that I can feel a sense of awe about the piece of art created or that I enjoy being immersed in, sharing the world with the characters or being inside those characters' heads. I didn't feel that here.
Profile Image for محمد المرزوقي.
80 reviews58 followers
July 14, 2015

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 والذي عرض مؤخرا في مهرجان ابوظبي السينمائي
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