Some of Swift's books have been filmed, including Last Orders, starring Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins and Waterland, starring Jeremy Irons. Last Orders was joint-winner of the 1996 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction and a mildly controversial winner of the 1996 Booker Prize, owing to the superficial similarities in plot to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Waterland is set in The Fens; a novel of landscape, history and family, it 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. Writer Patrick McGrath asked Swift about the “feeling for magic” in Waterland during an interview. Swift responds that “The phrase everybody comes up with is magic realism, which I think has now become a little tired. But on the other hand there’s no doubt that English writers of my generation have been very much influenced by writers from outside who in one way or another have got this magical, surreal quality, such as Borges, Márquez, Grass, and that that has been stimulating. I think in general it’s been a good thing. Because we are, as ever, terribly parochial, self-absorbed and isolated, culturally, in this country. It’s about time we began to absorb things from outside."
Swift was acquainted with Ted Hughes and has himself published poetry, some of which is included in Making an Elephant: Writing from Within (2009).