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Waxwings: A novel

Jonathan Raban

Format: Hardcover

Language: English

Pages: 288

Publisher: Pantheon (September 30, 2003)

ISBN: 0375410082

Format: PDF / Kindle / ePub

Size: 8.3 MB

Downloadable formats: PDF


From the best-selling author of Passage to Juneau—“Raban at his best,” wrote Ian McEwan—an unsettling, tender, and always surprising novel set in Seattle at the turn of the millennium, when the high-tech Gold Rush threatens to overwhelm the actual world with its myriad virtual alternatives.

Two immigrants, though, are drawn here by more traditional versions of the American Dream. For Tom Janeway—a Hungarian-born Englishman—it is the wife and son he thought he’d never have. For an illegal alien—Chick, as he comes to call himself—it is the land of opportunity he’d imagined back in Fujian province. Given the overheated service economy, mutual need introduces the writer–professor–NPR-commentator to this enterprising handyman, and each soon finds himself strangely dependent on the other. Because meanwhile, all around them, people are busily charting futures that are obscure to, or exclude, anyone else.

Waxwings masterfully depicts the social realities of a boomtown in flux, as well as the illusions that distract its inhabitants from the most basic human impulse: to create a place we can call home. This is what Chick dreams of achieving, and what Tom must suddenly struggle to preserve. As the NASDAQ index spirals upward, street riots break out, a terrorist is arrested, a child disappears, a jetliner goes down—and the city, rimmed with feral countryside, begins to emerge in its true colors.

The Washington Post proclaimed of Foreign Land that “Jonathan Raban’s achievements in this novel are nothing short of awesome,” and with Waxwings—exquisitely written and hugely entertaining—he demonstrates more powerfully than ever before that he “invests his characters with such freshness and warmth, writes prose of such Wordsworth-like beauty, and does it all with such effortless mastery that he takes the reader’s breath away.”

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