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Author Jonathan Raban

Esteemed author and traveler Jonathan Raban has died

Jonathan Raban was a frequent guest on KUOW. He had a unique view of life here in the Puget Sound area, and around the United States. Born and raised in England, he chose Seattle as his home in 1990. In 2013, he told Marcie Sillman about why he settled here:

“I loved the water around Seattle. I mean, the mixture of lakes and sea and rivers. Water has always been hugely important to me and I thought this is one of the wateriest cities I've ever seen. And it was hugely attractive to me for that reason.”

Raban was an avid sailor. About that passion, he said:

“When other people count sheep, I make imaginary voyages — where the sea is always lightly brushed by a wind of no more than 15 knots, the visibility always good, and my boat never more than an hour from the nearest safe anchorage.”

A writer of fiction and nonfiction, Raban was highly regarded for his travel writing but didn't want to be considered a travel writer. His nonfiction works include: “Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America” (1990), “Bad Land: An American Romance” (1996), “Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings” (1999), and “Driving Home: An American Journey” (2011). His novels include: “Foreign Land” (1985), “Waxwings” (2003), and “Surveillance” (2006).

Raban was honored with the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award, the PEN/West Creative Nonfiction Award, the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association Award, and the Governor's Award of the State of Washington.

Jonathan Raban was 80 years old. His agent says he died in Seattle on Tuesday from complications of a 2011 stroke. He is survived by his daughter Julia. His memoir, “Father and Son,” is set to be published in September.

Listen to some of Jonathan Raban’s appearances on KUOW below:

Weekday, October 3, 2003

Host Steve Scher talked to Raban about ‘Seattle's High-Tech Gold Rush’ and his novel “Waxwings,” which explores the changes this boomtown went through and how it affects the community and its citizens.

Rewind, February 14, 2004

Raban and fellow guest Sandy Cioffi talked to host Bill Radke about sending your clone to report for National Guard duty so you don’t have to, and a Valentine’s Day question: Does anybody really want to be alone?

Rewind, March 13, 2004

Raban joined host Bill Radke and fellow guest Vivian Phillips to reflect on the Northwest Environment Watch saying we’re not as green as we think, NASA saying the Hubble Space Telescope is too cool to cut loose, and other news of the week that was.

Power Of Voice, November 4, 2004

Host Eric Liu talked to Raban about his writing.

Weekday, November 15, 2005

Raban spoke to Steve Scher about Seattle’s view of the so-called ‘war on terror,’ the rise of the religious right, and his book "My Holy War: Dispatches from the Home Front."

Speakers Forum, January 18, 2006

KUOW’s Sara Lerner presented Raban’s November 16, 2005 Town Hall Seattle talk about his book, “My Holy War: Dispatches From the Home Front."

Weekday, January 31, 2007

Jonathan Raban talked to Steve Scher about his novel “Surveillance,” which imagines Seattle in a time when all American citizens are suspect.

The Conversation, March 2, 2010

Raban talked to host Guy Nelson about why he joined the Tea Party Nation and attended their convention in Nashville.

The Record, September 5, 2013

Marcie Sillman interviewed Raban about "Driving Home," a collection of his essays written over 20 years.

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