Hello Dubai by Joe Bennett

The Blurb On The Back:

Skiing, sand and shopping in the world’s weirdest city.

When Joe Bennett was at school he hadn’t heard of Dubai.  If you’d asked him where it was he would have guessed Africa.  Or perhaps India, or Asia, or even Europe.  And he wouldn’t have been far wrong, because Dubai isn’t far from anywhere.

Once nothing more than a hot little port on the Arabian Gulf, Dubai transformed seemingly overnight into a hub of global trade and global finance.  And it made this transformation peaceably; bringing Muslim and Christian worlds together without succumbing to the wars and terrorism that blight the region.  Dubai seemed like a model for the way ahead.

But when the economic crisis put the wind up global capitalism, Dubai came to be seen as the emblem of a rotten world.  Dubai was brash.  Dubai was cruel.  Dubai was exploitative.  Dubai was a speculative bubble.  Dubai, in short, was plain bloody horrible.

Leaving the comfort of his armchair, Joe Bennett embarks on a quest to discover just what (and where) Dubai really is.  Can it go on?  Has it sold itself to the corporate dollar?  Is it anything more than a mall in the desert?  Will the sands return?

Absurdly funny, wise and witty, Hello Dubai is another wonderful journey from the author of A Land Of Two Halves, Mustn’t Grumble and Where Underpants Come From.

You can order HELLO DUBAI by Joe Bennett from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the review copy of this book.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Afropean: Notes From Black Europe by Johny Pitts

The Blurb On The Back:

“Afropean.  Here was a space where blackness was taking part in shaping European identity … A continent of Cape Verdean favelas, Algerian flea markets, Surinamese shamanism, German reggae and Moorish castles.  Yes, all this was part of Europe too.”

Afropean is an on-the-ground documentary of the places where Europeans of African descent live their lives.  Setting off from his hometown of Sheffield, Johny Pitts makes his way through Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Moscow, Rome, Marseille and Lisbon, through council estates, political spaces, train stations, tour groups, and underground arts scenes.

Here is an alternative map of the continent, revealing plural identities and liminal landscapes, from a Cape Verdean shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon to RInkeby, the eighty per cent Muslim area of Stockholm, from West African students at university in Moscow to the notorious Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.  A Europe populated by Egyptian nomads, Sudanese restaurateurs, Belgo-Congolese painters.  Their voices speak to Afropean experiences that demand to be heard.

You can order Afropean: Notes From Black Europe by Johny Pitts from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Swiss Watching: Inside The Land Of Milk And Honey by Diccon Bewes

The Blurb On The Back:

One country, four languages, 26 cantons and 8 million people (but only 75% of them Swiss): welcome to Europe’s most individual country.  But there’s more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese.  This is a place where the breathtaking scenery shaped a nation not just a tour itinerary, and where tradition is as important as innovation.  It’s also been home to travel writer Diccon Bewes for over a decade.

Diccon started his Swiss explorations by seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate, but soon became the ultimate outsider on the inside.  He discovered that not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren’t Swiss and the trains aren’t always on time.  In fact, he uncovered the true meaning of Swissness and, in this new edition, started on the road to becoming Swiss himself.  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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