'A beautiful, compelling memoir . . . Father and Son is an exquisite, sometimes lunatic tension between powerful emotions and carnage on one side, and on the other, the conventional codes of what must remain unsaid. This, Raban's final work, is a gorgeous achievement" – Ian McEwan
On 11 June 2011, three days short of his sixty-ninth birthday, Jonathan Raban suffered a stroke which left him unable to use the right side of his body. Learning to use a wheelchair in a rehab facility outside Seattle and resisting the ministrations of the nurses overseeing his recovery, Raban began to reflect upon the measure of his own life in the face of his own mortality. Together with the chronicle of his recovery is the extraordinary story of his parents’ marriage, the early years of which were conducted by letter while his father fought in the Second World War.
Jonathan Raban engages profoundly and candidly with some of the biggest questions at the heart of what it means to be alive, laying bare the human capacity to withstand trauma, as well as the warmth, strength, and humour that persist despite it. Father and Son, the final work from the peerless man of letters, is a tremendous, continent-sweeping story of love and resilience in the face of immense loss.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 441 g
Dimensions: 223 x 143 x 35 mm
[Jonathan Raban] is a master, as he has shown in his legendary travel writing, of summoning place and people with vivid economy . . . Father and Son is an exquisite, sometimes lunatic tension between powerful emotions and carnage on one side, and on the other, the conventional codes of what must remain unsaid. This . . . is a gorgeous achievement.”
Blessed with a lyrical, flowing style . . . Raban was noted for his pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and flights of the imagination, but also for evocative powers and sardonic humour. He is frequently melancholic and meditative, but his distinct writing is characterised by precision and clarity.
Father and Son is a fine achievement, a wide-ranging and compelling account with the author's hallmarks of intelligence, erudition, humour and honesty
Any book, [Raban] thought, should roam as freely as it likes and this final volume is an illustration of that . . . and that’s what makes his memoir so lively, even when it stares death in the face.
Everything that’s matchless about Raban’s work — his hyperacute eye for detail, his powers of synthesis, his mordant sense of humor, his vast reservoirs of knowledge and his love of travel — is there.
Father and Son is a deeply moving career capstone . . . Raban's finest and most moving book . . . It is poignant and crushing . . . I wept.
Reading his father's wartime letters changed how Jonathan Raban understood their relationship. A stroke changed how he understood himself . . . As full of eloquence as it is free of sentimentality, [this] memoir is a parting gift from a figure of insight and fierce independence... the pages turn quickly because the lines are so raw.
[Jonathan Raban] was the kind of writer we don't have in quantity . . . It's our luck that he left this lively and bittersweet memoir behind . . . We find ourselves inside the mind of an outraged, indefatigable commentator on life . . . Every writing day, he asked himself two questions: 'What have I lost?' and 'Am I fooling myself?' . . . [The] result of his labors makes the responses clear: a) very little, and b) no.
Blessed with a lyrical flowing style, Jonathan Raban . . . was noted for his pitch-perfect ear for dialogue and flights of the imagination, but also for evocative powers and sardonic humour. . . A quixotic and nomadic seafaring writer, Raban was fascinated by the lives of the people he met . . . [In] his posthumous memoir . . . his thought-provoking approach, with trademark whimsy, illustrates his watchful eye.
Raban’s posthumously published final work follows an English father and son whose lives take diverging paths . . . The war chapters, which excerpt correspondence between Raban’s parents, are compelling, but it is Raban’s reckoning with his own frailty that carries the emotional weight of the book.
Jonathan Raban, who died earlier this year, left this memoir almost complete. It tells two stories, artfully braided . . . [and] with Raban’s interpolations, the Anzio pages [about his father] read like a military thriller....He was a master of close observation and wry self-deprecation, and had a cameraman’s ability to switch to a wide-angle lens in a heartbeat.
The late travel writer and novelist’s study of his dad . . . offers a beautifully written portrait rather than judgment.