Shuttlecock (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
First edition
Author Graham Swift
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Allen Lane (UK)
Washington Sq. (US)
Publication date
1981 (UK), 1985 (US)
Media type Print & audio
Pages 224
ISBN 0-7139-1413-0

Shuttlecock is Graham Swift's critically acclaimed[1] second novel, a psychological thriller[2] published in 1981 by Allen Lane.[3] It won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1983,[4] and is said to be the best of his earlier novels.[5] It was not published in the US until 1985, after the success of Waterland.[6]

Plot introduction[edit]

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

Film adaptation[edit]

Main article: Shuttlecock (film)

In 1991 the novel was made into a film starring Alan Bates and Lambert Wilson.


External links[edit]