Soft City

Jonathan Raban

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19 October 2017
320 pages


With an introduction by Iain Sinclair

In the city we can live deliberately: inventing and renewing ourselves, carving out journeys, creating private spaces. But in the city we are also afraid of being alone, clinging to the structures of daily life to ward off the chaos around us.

How is it that the noisy, jostling, overwhelming metropolis leaves us at once so energized and so fragile? In Soft City, Jonathan Raban, one of our most acclaimed novelists and travel writers seeks to find out. First published in the 1970s, his account is a compelling exploration of urban life: a classic in the literature of the city, more relevant to today’s overcrowded planet than ever.

A psychological handbook for urban survival

Sunday Telegraph

A brilliant hymn to urban disorientation and weirdness . . . Reading it on buses I felt I was looking into my fellow passengers' minds, which was creepy, and that I was offering them the means to loook into mine, which was terrifying

A marvelous picture . . . Soft City shows how, in the midst of physical decay, a city can flourish by fulfilling an elemental need, the need to play out fantasies of self

New York Times