|Publisher||Allen Lane (UK)
Washington Sq. (US)
|1981 (UK), 1985 (US)|
|Media type||Print & audio|
Shuttlecock is Graham Swift's critically acclaimed second novel, a psychological thriller published in 1981 by Allen Lane. It won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1983, and is said to be the best of his earlier novels. It was not published in the US until 1985, after the success of Waterland.
The story concerns Prentis, senior clerk in the 'dead crimes' department of the police archives in London, who is becoming increasingly frustrated and confused by the work he is being given by his enigmatic boss Quinn; he discovers crucial files are missing and suspects they are being deliberately withheld by Quinn. At home, Prentis is alienated from his wife and children and is obsessed about uncovering the truth about the wartime exploits of his father, who was a spy (codenamed 'Shuttlecock') behind enemy lines. His father published his memoirs but is now the inmate of a mental hospital following a breakdown in which he lost the ability to speak. As the story unfolds, Prentis suspects there may be links between Quinn's behaviour and his father's breakdown.
Quotes taken from back cover of 1997 Picador edition:
- 'An astonishing study of forms of guilt, laced with a thread of detection, and puckering now and then into outrageous humour' - Sunday Times
- 'A superbly written claustrophobic account of power that corrupts private and public life and of guilt that becomes obsession' - Daily Telegraph
- page 431 of Good Fiction Guide ed. Jane Rogers, 2nd edition published 2005 by OUP
- Graham Swift's Shuttlecock on www.victorianweb.org
- Shuttlecock at the Internet Movie Database
- Graham Swift discusses Shuttlecock with Hermione Lee - a British Library sound recording