Surveillance: A novel

Jonathan Raban

In these ever-more-paranoid times, can what we present of ourselves to the public stand up to the new levels of scrutiny? This chilling novel explores the question from the perspective of six people living in terrorist-obsessed, post-9/11 Seattle. War and ubiquitous anti-terror activities set the tone of their daily lives. The characters spend a lot of time watching each other and the larger world, trying to discern true from false—and to determine what others know about them. As small concerns and obsessions pile up, forces larger than individuals or governments intervene. What at first seems to be an unsatisfying, deus ex machina ending turns out to be, in fact, an example of the novel’s theme writ large. Surveillance is one of those books that grows on you the longer you think about it.