PD Smith

Urban DNA

24 June 2012 | City | Post a comment

To mark the recent publication of the US edition of City, I've been interviewed by the Atlantic Cities and Kirkus Reviews.

Nate Berg of Atlantic Cities writes:

"Mimicking the traveler's guidebook format, Smith breaks the city down into familiar but loose segments: customs, where to stay, getting around, and so on. But unlike the typical hotel suggestions and tipping advice you might get in a tourist guide, Smith uses these lenses to explore into such common facets of urbanity as languages, festivals, housing, ethnic enclaves, architectural styles, street food and pickpockets. Each section explores the history of these urban elements, their development over time, their interpretation in literature and the cultural shifts they've created. The book wisely avoids a straightforward narrative and approaches the city as it is: a wide variety of interconnected parts that co-evolved into an ecosystem."

Clayton Moore of Kirkus Reviews asked me why I chose to explore the concept of cities rather than concentrate on one city. I replied:

"There are already some wonderful biographies of specific cities. Peter Ackroyd’s London and Alexandra Richie’s history of Berlin, Faust’s Metropolis, spring to mind immediately. But I wanted to do something different. Namely, to explore our enduring love affair with cities and to try to identify the essential features that explain the global success of cities and city life. I wanted to write a book that captured something of our urban DNA."

Read the interviews at the Atlantic Cities and Kirkus Reviews websites.

Leave a Reply

Name (required)
Mail (will not be published) (required)