Father and Son
'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.
[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
Times Literary Supplement