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The City and the Writer

Portrait of writer and translator André Naffis-Sahely
Photo copyright © Nina Subin
The City and the Writer: In Los Angeles with André Naffis-Sahely
By Nathalie Handal
André Naffis-Sahely talks with Nathalie Handal about the hidden histories and iconic writers of Los Angeles.
May-2022-City-and-Writer-Deepak-Unnikrishnan-Featured
Deepak Unnikrishnan. Photo © Philip Cheung.
The City and the Writer: In Abu Dhabi with Deepak Unnikrishnan
By Nathalie Handal
If there is one constant about this place, it is this, that the people on the move (here) all rely on a different set of lies to proceed with their truth(s).
A portrait of writer Miguel Syjuco
The City and the Writer: In Manila with Miguel Syjuco
By Nathalie Handal
Architectural gems crumble on street corners, shrouded in grit till they’re decreed too ugly to save.
Febrary-2022-City-and-Writer-Fiona-Sampson
Fiona Sampson. Photo copyright © Ekaterina Voskresenskaya.
The City and the Writer: In London with Fiona Sampson
By Nathalie Handal
London, which seems all sprawl and braggadocio, is at the same time self-contained and fiercely defended.
Portrait of writer Sinan Antoon
Photo © Koutaiba al-Janabi
The City and the Writer: In Baghdad with Sinan Antoon
By Nathalie Handal
I don’t live (t)here, but it lives in me still.
Portrait of writer Ioana Morpurgo
The City and the Writer: In Bucharest with Ioana Morpurgo
By Nathalie Handal
I love this city against my own better judgment.
Portrait of writer Natalie Bakopoulos
The City and the Writer: In Athens with Natalie Bakopoulos
By Nathalie Handal
I’m always a bit shattered by Athens.
Portrait of writer Christopher Bakken
The City and the Writer: In Thessaloniki with Christopher Bakken
By Nathalie Handal
Dig anywhere in the city and you collide with history.
Portrait of writer Naivo
The City and the Writer: In Antananarivo, Madagascar, with Naivo
By Nathalie Handal
Its name, “the city of thousands,” is synonymous with multitude.
Portrait of writer Ali Al Ameri
Photo © Satish Kumar.
The City and the Writer: In Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, with Ali Al Ameri
By Nathalie Handal
The desert is the shoulder of the city.
Portrait of writer Maya C. Popa
The City and the Writer: In Oxford with Maya C. Popa
By Nathalie Handal
Oxford is one hidden city layered over another.
Portrait of writer Angelo Cannavacciuolo
The City and the Writer: In Naples with Angelo Cannavacciuolo
By Nathalie Handal
Naples is the city of a hundred cities, of a hundred satellites all orbiting the unique, massive planet that is memory.
Translated by Alta L. Price
Multimedia
The City and the Writer: In Mexico City with Carmen Boullosa
By Carmen Boullosa
The city has devoured itself over and over again.
Translated by Samantha Schnee
The City and the Writer: In Athens with Amanda Michalopoulou
By Nathalie Handal
Athens is about instant decisions, constant change, boldness and confusion and nerve.
The City and the Writer: In London with Jay Parini
By Nathalie Handal
London is a self-enclosed world that contains all worlds.
The City and the Writer: In New York City with Bob Holman
By Nathalie Handal
Usually there is no time to be moody, only the slap and the dash and the drill and the dig, you dig?
The City and the Writer: In Salerno with Giorgio Sica
By Nathalie Handal
Even if Salerno is blessed with sunshine, many things happen in the twilight.
The City and the Writer: In New York City with Willa Carroll
By Nathalie Handal
Car horns suddenly transformed into instruments of emotion, sirens of mourning.
The City and the Writer: In Paris with Marilyn Hacker
By Nathalie Handal
Something is always about to happen.
The City and the Writer: In Delhi with Sudeep Sen
By Nathalie Handal
Old Mughal monuments stand at ease with glass-and-steel office towers.
The City and the Writer: In Annaba, Algeria, with Janette Ayachi
By Nathalie Handal
For me, there is no Algeria, only Annaba, where the Barbary coast yawns out.
The City and the Writer: In Paris with John Freeman
By Nathalie Handal
The Paris I grew to love isn’t gone, but right now it is shutting down.
The City and the Writer: In Lisbon with Patricio Ferrari
By Nathalie Handal
Returning to Lisbon means savoring another delectable local delicacy: the mouthwatering Portuguese language with its varied assortment of vowels.
The City and the Writer: In Berlin with Rajeev Balasubramanyam
By Nathalie Handal
There is a permanent solace in the knowledge that you can’t be the weirdest person in this city.
The City and the Writer: In Amman with Amjad Nasser (1955–2019)
By Nathalie Handal
There is another life that unfolds in this low-lying area at the foot of the seven hills.
The City and the Writer: In Rome with Peter Covino
By Nathalie Handal
Returning to Rome makes the blood rush in unpredictable ways.
The City and the Writer: In Auckland, New Zealand with Chloe Honum
By Nathalie Handal
There’s no forgetting that we’re on an island at the bottom of the Pacific, looking up, heading into the morning while much of the world is still making its way through the day we just left behind.
The City and the Writer: In Toledo, Ohio, with Charles Kell
By Nathalie Handal
Toledo is a city marked with scratches, indentations, ashes of other cities, shadows, fugitive trails, clouds of smoke, dust, and slamming doors.
The City and the Writer: In Vicenza with Carlo Pizzati
By Nathalie Handal
Is it possible to ever fully outgrow the place that first left its mark on you? The town, city, or village where you lived for the first fifteen years of your life?
The City and the Writer: In Amman with Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
By Nathalie Handal
Amman consumes me when I’m there and it can feel like an entire world. It demands so much attention even as it grumbles about its own frustrations.
The City and the Writer: In Abidjan with Véronique Tadjo
By Nathalie Handal
The moment you think that you know Abidjan, the city escapes your embrace.
The City and the Writer: In New York City with Kathy Engel
By Nathalie Handal
The place that keeps having me back, its moonless nights, its raucous urban sea, anonymous and also memory-crammed, people- and ghost-filled.
The City and the Writer: In Athens with Alicia E. Stallings
By Nathalie Handal
If each city is like a game of chess, the day when I have learned the rules, I shall finally possess my empire, even if I shall never succeed in knowing all the cities it contains.—Italo Calvino, Invisible…
The City and the Writer: In Turin with Angie Cruz
By Nathalie Handal
Torino wears an elegant three-piece suit of the most beautiful fabric, but it’s frayed at the cuffs, missing some buttons.
The City and the Writer: In Lisbon, Portugal, and Orkney, Scotland with Rachael McGill
By Nathalie Handal
There’s nowhere that I don’t feel like an outsider. It’s always been that way . . . For me that’s something joyful.
The City and the Writer: In Calgary with Marcello Di Cintio
By Nathalie Handal
Passion lives in the realization, especially among Calgary’s creative class, that everything is permitted here.
The City and the Writer: In Worcester with Oliver de la Paz
By Nathalie Handal
From certain vantage points you can see the bones of the old city. Graying old buildings. Brickworks. Row houses stacked up on the hill.
The City and the Writer: In Bangalore with Madhuri Vijay
By Nathalie Handal
Bangalore was a small, sleepy cantonment town that woke up one day to find it had become a booming metropolis.
The City and the Writer: In Bombay with Jeet Thayil
By Nathalie Handal
Nothing exists outside Bombay. From the moment you get off the plane, you know you have entered a room full of mirrors: everything is self-referential.
The City and the Writer: In Nablus with Isabella Hammad
By Nathalie Handal
Even in the Nablus of my mind I remain outside, peering in at windows, opening stale cupboards, looking for abandoned objects from the past.
The City and the Writer: In Tripoli, Lebanon with Ruth Awad
By Nathalie Handal
Tripoli is my father’s birthplace, and it always evokes existential questions about my identity: can I be of a place but not from it?
The City and the Writer: In San José, Costa Rica with David Cruz
By Nathalie Handal
Outside San José, the world exists, but it is a city that, despite its smallness, tries to contain you.
The City and the Writer: In Taipei with Afaa Weaver
By Nathalie Handal
What comes to us of places we have not seen is not what that place actually is. This important fact is ignored more and more.
The City and the Writer: In San Juan with Ricardo Alberto Maldonado
By Nathalie Handal
Those who I call my own (mi gente) draw some thing from each other: some light, some power I see but have few words for. And they build when they remember.
The City and the Writer: In San Juan with Frances Negrón-Muntaner
By Nathalie Handal
San Juan is a city full of life with a unique perspective on how to weather the growing storms of our moment.
The City and the Writer: In Brighton, England with Colin Grant
By Nathalie Handal
Brighton is often called the London-suburb-by-the-sea. It’s a raffish and open city.
The City and the Writer: In Martha’s Vineyard with Justen Ahren
By Nathalie Handal
Winter is a rite of passage. There is a special stillness that can possess you for better or for worse.
The City and the Writer: In New York City with Lee Briccetti
By Nathalie Handal
The human psyche is also New York psyche: vertical, horizontal, additive, oscillating between prophetic vision and madness.
The City and the Writer: In Rome with Elizabeth Geoghegan
By Nathalie Handal
It certainly feels true that all roads lead to Rome and, to that end, Rome is forever a city of outsiders. In one fashion or another, it absorbs us all. But those same famous roads, built centuries ago, also lead away from Rome.
The City and the Writer: In Hong Kong with Nicholas Wong
By Nathalie Handal
People always talk about whether the place one returns to is the same as or different than the place one left. To be able to return to a place implies an inevitable second or third departure. Gradually, one is also invited to reflect on departure and…
The City and the Writer: In Melbourne with Susan Bradley Smith
By Nathalie Handal
I take Melbourne everywhere with me these days: her good manners, brisk moods, screaming weather, boldness, outright brassiness, and her whispering words. They are now helix to my soul.
The City and the Writer: In Beirut with Jehan Bseiso
By Nathalie Handal
Although Beirut is not my city of origin, it is the city of my heart.
The City and the Writer: In Split with Damir Šodan
By Nathalie Handal
Growing up in Split was nothing short of magical because my crew was always out in the street or sitting on the parapets outside apartment buildings in our working-class neighborhood. That’s where we first learned everything about life.
The City and the Writer: In Zagreb with Tomica Bajsić
By Nathalie Handal
I think Zagreb exists mostly in nostalgia—the friends left behind, our intimate way of life—because in big cities around the world, you are close to everybody and nobody at the same time.
The City and the Writer: In Montevideo, Uruguay, with Melisa Machado
By Nathalie Handal
The inhabitants of Montevideo might not perceive the peaceful vibe of their own city. The possibility of walking through its most beautiful areas on foot.
The City and the Writer: In Buenos Aires with Luciana Jazmín Coronado
By Nathalie Handal
I feel it as a moment in which things are waning: as if from that bridge everything surrounding it were dimmed. More than voices, I notice the growth of plants upon the wire fence. The bridge forms a dry outline, a postcard from no one.
The City and the Writer: In Kruja, Albania with Luljeta Lleshanaku
By Nathalie Handal
There is something biblical in the human landscape of small towns, in their tendency to make a drama out of nothing. Everybody has a name and every day something happens, even when nothing really happens.
The City and the Writer: In Belgrade with Dejan Atanackovic
By Nathalie Handal
Belgrade is loved by those who try to reconnect the fragile ties that link place with identity. They love Belgrade's delicate, fading details.
The City and the Writer: In Accra, Ghana with Meshack Asare
By Nathalie Handal
In Accra, you stand smack in the middle of your own shadow at midday, right in the middle of the world.
The City and the Writer: In New York City with Colum McCann
By Nathalie Handal
It’s a gorgeous rubbish heap too, a city of the timeless now.
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