Jonathan Raban


Jonathan Raban’s books include Surveillance, My Holy War, Arabia, Old Glory, Hunting Mister Heartbreak, Bad Land, Passage to Juneau, and Waxwings. His most recent book is Driving Home: An American Journey, published in 2011. He is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Heinemann Award of the Royal Society of Literature, the PEN/West Creative Nonfiction Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, and the Governor’s Award of the State of Washington. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, and The Independent. He lives in Seattle.

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  • Those Damned Seattle Liberals!

    November 5, 2010

    Because Washington state now votes by mail, elections here tend to play out, at an agonizingly slow speed, over many days and, sometimes, weeks. So it was a relief when Dino Rossi, the Republican challenger, conceded to Senator Patty Murray less than 48 hours after the polls closed, with 1.8m ballots counted and around 600,000 still to come.

  • UK Elections: Boredom at the Ballot Box

    May 3, 2010

    After the short-lived tornado of "Bigotgate" on April 28, and the final televised prime ministerial debate the next evening the British opinion polls have been all over the place. They agree that David Cameron's Conservatives will win and Gordon Brown's Labour party will lose, but everything else is shrouded in fog.

  • After the Second Debate: The Clegg Catharsis?

    April 25, 2010

    After the second televised prime ministerial debate, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats continue to run neck-and-neck in opinion polls with David Cameron's Conservatives, with Gordon Brown and Labour in third place.

  • The Third Party Surprise

    April 16, 2010

    Britain’s first ever televised prime ministerial debate, which took place on April 15 in Manchester, can be seen on C-Span (though when I watched it the sound and pictures were distractingly out of sync), or heard on BBC Radio 4.

  • Did the Gravediggers Arrive Too Soon?

    April 2, 2010

    Trying to follow the impending British general election from afar, I’ve been reading The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour by Andrew Rawnsley, chief political commentator for the Observer. Eight hundred pages long, and crammed with “inside” political gossip (or credible intelligence, if you prefer), it’s a book as hard to admire as it is to put down. Though the text is bespattered with authenticating footnotes (many say no more than “Conversation, Cabinet minister”), it reads like airport fiction. Its flawed (and credible) hero is Tony Blair, its cardboard villain Gordon Brown.

  • How to Find the Best of Lange

    November 2, 2009

    Some visual footnotes to my piece on Dorothea Lange in the new issue of The New York Review. I wrote about her work for the Farm Security Administration and her famous photograph Migrant Mother, and also discussed other areas of her work that may be less well known to readers, including this portrait of a Hopi man, which appears in Linda Gordon’s new biography of Lange.

  • In Bovary Country

    October 9, 2009

    Yonville l’Abbaye, literature’s capital of provincial conformity, clichés, and idées reçues, was said by Flaubert to be “a place that does not exist.” But ever since Maxime du Camp, Flaubert’s friend and traveling companion, told the world that the germ of Madame Bovary was the scandalous death by suicide of Delphine Delamare, wife of the officer of health in the small market town of Ry, fiction and fact, Yonville and Ry, have become inseparably entwined.