Nine Quarters of Jerusalem
‘Original and illuminating … what a good book this is’ Jonathan Dimbleby
‘A love letter to the people of the Old City’ Jerusalem Post
In Jerusalem, what you see and what is true are two different things. Maps divide the walled Old City into four quarters, yet that division doesn’t reflect the reality of mixed and diverse neighbourhoods. Beyond the crush and frenzy of its major religious sites, much of the Old City remains little known to visitors, its people overlooked and their stories untold. Nine Quarters of Jerusalem lets the communities of the Old City speak for themselves. Ranging through ancient past and political present, it evokes the city’s depth and cultural diversity.
Matthew Teller’s highly original ‘biography’ features the Old City’s Palestinian and Jewish communities, but also spotlights its Indian and African populations, its Greek and Armenian and Syriac cultures, its downtrodden Dom Gypsy families and its Sufi mystics. It discusses the sources of Jerusalem’s holiness and the ideas – often startlingly secular – that have shaped lives within its walls. Nine Quarters of Jerusalem is an evocation of place through story, led by the voices of Jerusalemites.
Highly perceptive and readable ... combines millennia of Jerusalem's history with insightful interviews with its residents, weaponising that unusual approach to present a subtle portrait of the current reality at the heart of the world's most intractable and divisive conflict ... fascinating -- Ian Black * Observer * Vivid ... as much about the present as the past -- Rachel Cooke * Observer * Engaging ... Teller is an informed, enthusiastic guide to one of the most contested sites in the world * FT * [Nine Quarters of Jerusalem] is an effective mixture of history and travel literature, the bright and breezy tone of which belies Teller's seriousness. Nine Quarters of Jerusalem offers the best sort of genre-bending writing * Literary Review * As labyrinthine as the city it describes ... a curious, offbeat biography that comes alive through the many gathered voices * The Critic * Acute social analysis ... an engrossing travelogue ... vibrant * Catholic Herald * Illuminating and deeply researched ... there is a wealth of stories here * Geographical Magazine * A love letter to the people of the Old City * The Jerusalem Post * Original and engaging * Tel Aviv Review of Books * A delight ... one cannot help but be impressed by the interviewees' energy, resourcefulness, originality, persistence, and accomplishments against the odds, as well as by the author's depth of historical knowledge, his mastery of linguistics and choice of subjects. * Jordan Times * A highly original exploration of Jerusalem's cultural diversity * Traveller * Stand out * Asian Review of Books * Teller aims to break down the boundaries and reveal the human complexity that has been ignored ... Nine Quarters serves as a riposte to the denial of Palestinian history ... Teller's stories are informed by dogged detective work ... This telling of history spotlights the characters, communities, and institutions that have given the Old City a heartbeat underneath all the grandeur and mythology * Middle East Eye * Teller writes with affection and compassion for Jerusalem's wide variety of peoples but a sharp-eyed lack of deference for a city whose past and present he explores with insight, sensitivity and wry humour -- Jonathan Dimbleby, author and documentary maker The Old City of Jerusalem has found an inspired, imaginative, and iconoclastic biographer. Teller set himself the modest task of telling stories. The end result, however, is a highly readable book, a vivid portrait, and a fresh perspective on this infinitely complex city -- Avi Shlaim, emeritus professor at the University of Oxford and author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World This book peels away the layers of deception to debunk the myth that the Old City is composed of four distinct quarters - a notion that continues to plague the city and underpins the assumption that present-day conflict comes down to age-old hatred between religions ... Teller takes the reader on a trip that reveals the Old City of Jerusalem better than any other book written about the city -- Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks A lyrical and electric book, rich and intensely evocative (with a twist of cumin), as the author shares his life-long obsession for one of the most over-documented and misunderstood cities on earth. This is not another biography but an altogether more important book, about the human tapestries that could, possibly, weave together a new Jerusalem -- Louisa Waugh, author and humanitarian activist Captivating. Teller's language flows lightly but his feelings run deep and it is difficult to pull away from his descriptions of the Old City. -- Noga Tarnopolsky, Jerusalem reporter * LA Times * A marvel. Teller deftly braids the historical, the political and the experiential. His book is at once universal in scope and intimate -- Massoud Hayoun, author of When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family's Forgotten History There has been no book like this written in the last twenty years ... Matthew Teller has resurrected this city -- George Hintlian, author of History of the Armenians in the Holy Land For any other city, a book that tells the stories of its residents might be unremarkable - but for Jerusalem, so often weighed down by ancient history and the politics of occupation, Teller has produced a book that is borderline radical in its focus on the people who live there -- Zora O'Neill, author of All Strangers Are Kin Exploding the myths about age-old hatreds between religions, this must-read book lays bare the role of arrogant British colonialists and missionaries in shaping Jerusalem's Old City according to their vision. It challenges the misleading maps that serve the Israeli narrative and encourages visitors to see beyond the facade. A must-read expose -- Diana Darke, author of Stealing from the Saracens
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