This is London
Life and Death in the World City
Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2016, formerly known as the Samuel Johnson Prize.
This is the new London: an immigrant city. Over one-third of Londoners were born abroad, with half arriving since the millennium. This has utterly transformed the capital, for better and for worse.
Ben Judah is an acclaimed foreign correspondent, but here he turns his reporter's gaze on home, immersing himself in the hidden world of London's immigrants to reveal the city in the eyes of its beggars, bankers, coppers, gangsters, carers and witch-doctors. From the backrooms of its mosques, Tube tunnels and nightclubs to the frontlines of its streets, Judah has supped with oligarchs and spent nights sleeping rough, worked on building sites and talked business with prostitutes; he's heard stories of heartbreaking failure, but also witnessed extraordinary acts of compassion.
This is London explodes fossilized myths and offers a fresh, exciting portrait of what it's like to live, work, fall in love, raise children, grow old and die in London now. Simultaneously intimate and epic, here is a compulsive and deeply sympathetic book on this dizzying world city from one of our brightest new writers.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Demonstrates that you can find an exotic civilization and human jungle just round the corner in your own city * Times Literary Supplement * [A] remarkable study of the modern city . . . A timely insight into how we live now * i * Astonishing. . .Judah has travelled the length and breadth of the city, talking to and empathising with those too often airbrushed from the picture. . .As a former foreign correspondent, Judah is the ideal guide to this new landscape. . .important and impressive * Sunday Telegraph * A wonderfully-written, fascinating account of modern-day life, offering a glimpse of the world from those arriving in the city hoping for a better life. . .an important, detailed read on the stories of those often unheard -- Simon Peach * Press Association * Judah grabs hold of London and shakes out its secrets. He has a gift for ingratiating himself into very foreign surroundings and teasing out stories. . .Judah has done an important service in capturing the voices of those swept to the margins by economic forces beyond their control * Economist * Compassionate, fresh and courageous * Spectator * Judah is brilliant at winning the confidence of London's immigrant poor and encouraging them to talk . . . In terms of getting under the skin of a small part of England, Judah has written the most impressive book since Nick Davies' Dark Heart . . . Work like this is vital in reminding the middle classes that poverty - the filthy and beggarly poverty of soul-destroying drudgery and an empty stomach - is more than a set of figures in the negative column of the UK PLC balance sheet. It is an ineradicable feature of the economic system on which much of the middle classes' own prosperity depends * Little Atoms * A chronicle of the capital so incisively up-to-date it is disconcerting, invigorating, and depressing all at once . . . Judah allows the new Londoners to speak for themselves and, in so doing, shines a light on the dark corners of the city -- Lilian Pizzichini * Mail on Sunday * Amazing -- Peter Pomerantsev [Judah travels through the city, coaxing astonishing interviews from a wide range of migrants . . . He captures the different voices with great skill . . . His observations are acute . . . His interviews are always psychologically telling . . . Most remarkable is Judah's obvious compassion, to which his subjects respond, opening their hearts and letting their voices "tumble" into his tape recorder . . . London emerges from this book as a disturbing, dramatically changing city . . . It is an extraordinary portrait of a city and a rare treat to come across a book in which the ideas are as compelling and fresh as the writing. This is London is a game changer. No longer can we stroll past villages of sleeping Roma and pretend they do not exist. This is London today and Ben Judah is its chronicler * Literary Review * This Is London is an exhilarating account of the British capital . . . His writing is visceral, and at its best echoes the immersive style of the great Polish reporter and author Ryszard Kapuscinski . . . He treats his subjects with great sensitivity . . . an important, unflinching piece of reportage. Judah digs deep into parts of London that a less adventurous journalist would avoid, unearthing some of the many tragic narratives shaping a city at the turbulent forefront of globalisation * The National (Scotland) * Ben Judah offers no answers; but bears witness. He reports the stories of London's immigrants with a smart mind, a light touch and a brave and compassionate heart. These statements deserve to be heard. This is London is an important, state of the nation, eye-opening report from our increasingly ghettoized capital city -- Dan Boothby, author of <i>Island of Dreams</i> A vital, almost overwhelming panorama of brutality and injustice * Metro * Mesmerising, trenchant and deeply compassionate -- Book of the Month * Bookseller * Having spent the last year meeting people along several of the world's busiest migration trails, it is fascinating to read Ben Judah's powerful account of where some of them end up. Judah has created an alternative and essential guide to London, and Londoners, in 2015.' -- Patrick Kingsley * Guardian * This truly extraordinary book is as raw, powerful, unflinching, witty, engaging, shocking, in-your-face and occasionally both heartwarming and heartbreaking as the great but complex and flawed city it chronicles. I've lived in London for three decades yet found something I didn't know about it on virtually every page -- Andrew Roberts, author of <i>Napoleon the Great</i> Judah has succeeded in opening reader's eyes to the hardships experienced by many and ignored by most * Independent * Work of this sort really is necessary; this is the stuff we must think about it we are ever to get to grips (assuming it's not too late already) with what lies ahead for our cities. Every MP should be given a copy immediately. On every page lies and uncomfortable truth, in every paragraph sheer horror. It is a book that demonstrably improves the eyesight. Read it, and the streets will look different: I guarantee it. Above all, more than I can possibly say, I admired its author's pluck, determination, compassion and refusal to judge - and I'd like him to know that some of the stories he told will haunt me for a long time to come -- Rachel Cooke * New Statesman * A revelatory work, full of nuggets of unexpected information about the lives of others . . . [Judah] is a fine, intrepid reporter * Financial Times * An eye-opening investigation into the hidden immigrant life of the city . . . You won't read a more succinct analysis * Sunday Times * It is hard to overstate the value of what Judah has done . . . This is London is an important and impressive book * Sunday Telegraph *