The world’ s walls are supposed to be coming down. We speak of globalization, international markets and global villages; barriers to trade keep falling, and it is now possible to communicate instantly from nearly anywhere in the world. But just as these virtual walls come down, real walls rise. In this evocative blend of travel writing, history and politics, Marcello Di Cintio visits the world’ s most disputed edges to meet those who live alongside the razor wire, concrete and steel. Along the way he shares tea with refugees on the wrong side of Morocco’ s desert wall; he encounters illegal immigrants circumventing high-tech fencing around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla; he walks Arizona’ s migrant trails, visits fenced-in villages in India, and stands with those who protest against Israel’ s security barrier to understand what these structures say about those who build them, and how they influence the cultures that they pen in. Venturing beyond politics, he encounters the infiltrators who circumvent the walls, the artists who transform them, and the fenced-in ignored and forgotten people who live in their shadow.
The walls discussed are: 1. ‘ The Wall of Shame’ in the Western Sahara, built by the Morrocans in 1987 following their defeat by the Spanish. 2. A high-tech ‘ fence’ around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Meilla. 3. The Indo Bangladesh ‘ fence’ , erected in 1947. 4. The West Bank Wall. 5. The ‘ green line’ that separates the Greek from the Turkish-Cypriot quarters in Nicosia, the capital of Cypress, and Lefkosa, the capital of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. 6. The US-Mexico border. 7. The various barriers throughout Belfast. 8.The l’ Acadie fence in Montreal, erected as a wall built of chains in 1960.
MARCELLO DI CINTIO is a Canadian writer who has lived in West Africa, North Africa, India and the Middle East. He is the author of two award-winning books: Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa and Poets and Pahlevans: A Journey Into the Heart of Iran.
‘The ‘wall disease’, to borrow Di Cintio’s phrase, is rampant but hopefully this passionate book will help us to develop an antidote.’
‘As a colourful, compassionate tour of hot spots where “nations stake territory in bald concrete”, this beating of the bounds can’t be topped.’
'Award-winning Canadian travel writer blends history, travel writing and reportage. He writes beautifully.'
'A challenging subject, fraught with political risk and one that could easily tempt a writer to platitudes and facile truisms. Instead, Di Cintio disciplined himself to observe and reflect in depth, and to avoid easy conclusions. This is the kind of book that could only come from immersion in real places and among real people and in that regard, given the complex tensions that are spread along the world's walls, it's almost a miracle it ever got written. Di Cintio's prose is eloquent yet humble, occasionally poetic, and deeply-considered. Truly an exceptional work.'
'An ambitious investigation of the globalised world's underbelly.'
'Di Cintio is very good - honest, sharp, nuanced and vivid.'
'[Di Cintio] brings a fair-minded, maple-baked sensitivity to the madness of dividing lines and barbed wire, but the effect is all the more saddening. If someone as uncholeric and sweet-tempered as Di Cintio found more despair than hope, it's not a good sign. Still, he writes well, unpicking some of the world's trouble spots in spare and lucid prose.'
'A book that follows its thread, that unpompously accepts the haplessness of being an outsider, and that is justly impatient with comunities that hide behind a wall rather than ask difficult questions.'
‘ Di Cintio’ s journeys successfully articulate the diminishing, humiliating effect of the walls on those who have no choice but to push against them.’
'[an] illuminating, brilliantly composed book.’
'What's it like having a physically massive, politically symbolic barrier for a neighbour? That's the question posed by this deftly written travelogue, which drops into settlements in Isreal, Northern Ireland, Mexico and more to paint stark portraits of life beside some of the world's most notorious reinforced borders.'
'What he [Di Cintio] does do, bravely and forcefully, and with impressive commitment, is to bear witness to the suffering of people who live in the shadow of separation barriers.'
A beautifully written reportage, part travel, part history, part politics, full of acute observations and analysis. Recognising that, as an outsider weilding a Canadian passport, he is in the enviable position of being able to pass through walls, Di Cintio makes meaningful connections with people on the ground to understand local contexts. The results are personal stories of living with walls, of subverting them and of defeating them, at once gripping, haunting, humorous and inspiring.'
'Solid journalism that takes readers into cheerless, contested places they probably would not wish to see for themselves. An eye-opener.'
‘ As a colourful, compassionate tour of hot spots where “ nations stake territory in bald concrete” , this beating of the bounds can’ t be topped.’
‘ The ‘ wall disease’ , to borrow Di Cintio’ s phrase, is rampant but hopefully this passionate book will help us to develop an antidote.’