Tales of Two Londons

sub-heading:
Stories From a Fractured City

"...a stellar cast, presenting us with a full picture of London life, past and present"

- Times Literary Supplement
$18.00

Adding to cart… The item has been added
  • 292 pages
  • Paperback ISBN 9781682191361
  • E-book ISBN 9781682191378

about the book

London today is embattled as rarely before in peacetime. On one side the city has flourished, cementing its standing as a world leader in business and culture. Infrastructure investment outstrips anywhere else in the UK, property prices have soared, technology and new media industries have burgeoned. On the other, poverty remains endemic, homelessness and the privations of low paid work are evident everywhere, gang violence is rampant, and the burnt-out hulk of the Grenfell Tower housing block stands as an ugly reminder that, even in the wealthiest areas, inequality can be so acute as to be murderous.

In these pages Claire Armitstead has drawn together a rich collection of fiction, reportage and poetry to capture the schisms defining the contemporary city. In a metropolis with nearly 40% of its population born outside the country, Tales of Two Londons eschews what Armitstead labels a "tyranny of tone", emphasizing voices from beyond conventional arenas.

Here, alongside writers with established reputations, we find stories from hitherto unpublished immigrants and refugees, from people working with deprived youth in city, from Kurdish activists, and from tenants groups. Taken together, their stories portray the fabric of the city: its housing, its food, its pubs, its buses, even its graveyards. Above all, this scintillating anthology draws on the rich mélange of people who inhabit today's London, both lamenting the unequal way the city treats them and celebrating the vibrant urban life their co-existence delivers.

Contributors: Akwaaba Writing Group, Arifa Akbar, Memed Aksoy, Omar Alfrouh, Sophie Baggott, Kinga Burger, Duncan Campbell, John Crace, Tom Dyckhoff, Travis Elborough, Inua Ellams, Jo Glanville, Stephen Griffith, Lynsey Hanley, Jonathan Jones, Nicolette Jones, Ben Judah, Sarah Maguire, David McKie, Rowan Moore, Daljit Nagra, Andrew O’Hagan, Ruth Padel, Michèle Roberts, Jacob Ross, Ferdous Sadat, Jane Shilling, Helen Simpson, Iain Sinclair, Ali Smith, Lisa Smith, Jon Snow, Yomi Sode, Richard Norton-Taylor, Alex Rhys-Taylor, Ed Vulliamy, Ewa Winnicka and Penny Woolcock.

About The Author / Editor

Claire Armitstead was born in south London and spent her early years in northern Nigeria. She worked as a trainee reporter in South Wales, covering the Welsh valleys during the miner's strike, before joining the Hampstead & Highgate Express as a theatre critic and sub-editor. She then moved to the Financial Times, and subsequently to the Guardian, where she has worked as arts editor, literary editor, head of books and most recently, Associate Editor (Culture). She presents the weekly Guardian Books podcast and is a regular speaker at festivals around the world. She has been a trustee of English PEN since 2013.

Read An Excerpt

From Rosalind by Arifa Akbar

I heard about Rosalind Hibbins before I met her. I was buying an attic flat on top of a converted period house on Lady Margaret Road, a tree-lined backstreet that runs from Kentish Town to Tufnell Park, and I had just exchanged contracts with its former owner, Holly, when she mentioned the woman who lived downstairs. She spoke of Rosalind with such strained diplomacy that it seemed as if she were revealing furtive knowledge of a faulty boiler or leaky roof that she'd kept hidden until too late. 'She's a character!'' Holly said with a nervous laugh. 'Every street's got one.'

I was moving from a large 1930s block on Camden Road where my neighbours had been too many and too fluid to get to know beyond the briefest of helloes in the lift. It suited me that way; I had grown up on a housing estate in Primrose Hill after my parents returned to London from Pakistan, and as the only non-white family in our council block, we tried to live as quietly as we could amid the curiosity, and occasional hostility. As the postwar generation died off, our neighbours became far more unknown and indifferent to us, and we to them.

Rosalind introduced herself to me the day I arrived. She was a strapping woman with tidy red hair cut short, and a way of speaking that quickly travelled the scale from genial to spiky. The furniture was still being hauled up when she emerged at the top of my stairs with a box of organic tea, and looked at me with wonder. 'I'm so pleased to finally meet you,' she said. 'I looked up your name. I didn't know if you'd come veiled.'

Oh god, I thought, but she was full of neighbourly spirit after that. She asked me what else I needed, and when I spoke of a housewarming party, she saw my bare living room and said she'd lend me her corner tables so I'd have some flat surfaces to serve food on to my guests.

in the media

Tales of Two Londons

sub-heading:
Stories From a Fractured City

"...a stellar cast, presenting us with a full picture of London life, past and present"

- Times Literary Supplement
$18.00

Add to Cart

Adding to cart… The item has been added

about the book

London today is embattled as rarely before in peacetime. On one side the city has flourished, cementing its standing as a world leader in business and culture. Infrastructure investment outstrips anywhere else in the UK, property prices have soared, technology and new media industries have burgeoned. On the other, poverty remains endemic, homelessness and the privations of low paid work are evident everywhere, gang violence is rampant, and the burnt-out hulk of the Grenfell Tower housing block stands as an ugly reminder that, even in the wealthiest areas, inequality can be so acute as to be murderous.

In these pages Claire Armitstead has drawn together a rich collection of fiction, reportage and poetry to capture the schisms defining the contemporary city. In a metropolis with nearly 40% of its population born outside the country, Tales of Two Londons eschews what Armitstead labels a "tyranny of tone", emphasizing voices from beyond conventional arenas.

Here, alongside writers with established reputations, we find stories from hitherto unpublished immigrants and refugees, from people working with deprived youth in city, from Kurdish activists, and from tenants groups. Taken together, their stories portray the fabric of the city: its housing, its food, its pubs, its buses, even its graveyards. Above all, this scintillating anthology draws on the rich mélange of people who inhabit today's London, both lamenting the unequal way the city treats them and celebrating the vibrant urban life their co-existence delivers.

Contributors: Akwaaba Writing Group, Arifa Akbar, Memed Aksoy, Omar Alfrouh, Sophie Baggott, Kinga Burger, Duncan Campbell, John Crace, Tom Dyckhoff, Travis Elborough, Inua Ellams, Jo Glanville, Stephen Griffith, Lynsey Hanley, Jonathan Jones, Nicolette Jones, Ben Judah, Sarah Maguire, David McKie, Rowan Moore, Daljit Nagra, Andrew O’Hagan, Ruth Padel, Michèle Roberts, Jacob Ross, Ferdous Sadat, Jane Shilling, Helen Simpson, Iain Sinclair, Ali Smith, Lisa Smith, Jon Snow, Yomi Sode, Richard Norton-Taylor, Alex Rhys-Taylor, Ed Vulliamy, Ewa Winnicka and Penny Woolcock.

About The Author / Editor

Claire Armitstead was born in south London and spent her early years in northern Nigeria. She worked as a trainee reporter in South Wales, covering the Welsh valleys during the miner's strike, before joining the Hampstead & Highgate Express as a theatre critic and sub-editor. She then moved to the Financial Times, and subsequently to the Guardian, where she has worked as arts editor, literary editor, head of books and most recently, Associate Editor (Culture). She presents the weekly Guardian Books podcast and is a regular speaker at festivals around the world. She has been a trustee of English PEN since 2013.

Read An Excerpt

From Rosalind by Arifa Akbar

I heard about Rosalind Hibbins before I met her. I was buying an attic flat on top of a converted period house on Lady Margaret Road, a tree-lined backstreet that runs from Kentish Town to Tufnell Park, and I had just exchanged contracts with its former owner, Holly, when she mentioned the woman who lived downstairs. She spoke of Rosalind with such strained diplomacy that it seemed as if she were revealing furtive knowledge of a faulty boiler or leaky roof that she'd kept hidden until too late. 'She's a character!'' Holly said with a nervous laugh. 'Every street's got one.'

I was moving from a large 1930s block on Camden Road where my neighbours had been too many and too fluid to get to know beyond the briefest of helloes in the lift. It suited me that way; I had grown up on a housing estate in Primrose Hill after my parents returned to London from Pakistan, and as the only non-white family in our council block, we tried to live as quietly as we could amid the curiosity, and occasional hostility. As the postwar generation died off, our neighbours became far more unknown and indifferent to us, and we to them.

Rosalind introduced herself to me the day I arrived. She was a strapping woman with tidy red hair cut short, and a way of speaking that quickly travelled the scale from genial to spiky. The furniture was still being hauled up when she emerged at the top of my stairs with a box of organic tea, and looked at me with wonder. 'I'm so pleased to finally meet you,' she said. 'I looked up your name. I didn't know if you'd come veiled.'

Oh god, I thought, but she was full of neighbourly spirit after that. She asked me what else I needed, and when I spoke of a housewarming party, she saw my bare living room and said she'd lend me her corner tables so I'd have some flat surfaces to serve food on to my guests.

in the media