The essence of Owen Hatherley’s new book, A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain, was well captured this week in a review by Gavin Bowd for Scotland on Sunday:
“In this hugely depressing but supremely entertaining book, the radical critic sets off on a series of urban trawls, skewering the UK’s neoliberal dystopia while seeking out solace in the past and future.”
Visit Scotland on Sunday to read the review in full.
With the recent urban landscape changing rapidly due to the recession, Owen Hatherley’s latest book A New Kind of Bleak is a timely reflection on how these changes have taken shape in Britain.
Reviewing his book for the Guardian, Andy Beckett says of Hatherley:
His leftwing politics, quick put-downs and, perhaps above all, the sense that he speaks for a rarely represented generation that has not benefitted from gentrification, the property ladder and the other urban booms of the last 30 years, make his books fierce and original.
Following recent events across the globe, it is no surprise that reviewers of David Harvey’s Rebel Cities continue to easily locate the book in its contemporary context and commend its undeniable relevance. Writing in the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote states that this latest work produced by Harvey, whom he hails as having always been “a consistent and intelligent voice on the left,” could not be better timed:
In the past couple of years the squares and streets of the city have re- emerged in the most dramatic manner imaginable as a forum for public protest. From Cairo to Athens, from Madrid’s “Indignados” to America’s Occupy Wall Street movement and right up to the recently removed protesters outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London, urban centres all over the world have resonated with the chants of those who feel economically and politically disempowered.
Visit the Financial Times to read the review in full.
What of the Olympic site itself? Everything is dominated by the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a shocking pink entrail laterally curved around an observation tower, famously commissioned by Boris Johnson in the toilets of a fundraising dinner from steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who provided the metal in return for the monument being named after him. There’s a faintly sick irony in this ex-industrial zone being overlooked by an edifice dedicated to a prolific downsizer and asset-stripper of factories, but that aside, there are buildings to enjoy, if you can keep from your mind the town-planning abortion that has been wreaked upon Stratford.
Owen Hatherley's new travelogue through the grim thoroughfares of contemporary urban planning is raising both hackles and high praise from across the mainstream media.
Reviewing A New Kind of Bleak for Time Out, Euan Ferguson praises Hatherley's "typically acerbic and witty arguments" on the ideological landscape that have shaped our urban environments, from the unrealised potential of post-war planning to the clumsy market-driven regeneration of Blairism:
Hatherley's an engaging, fearless and startlingly intelligent polemicist, one unashamed to talk about class and capitalism and the importance of state provision. We need a writer like him now more than ever, an uncompromising voice from the left: the purpose of his search for the real Britain is not to take the piss or exhume fake nostalgia but to ask questions for which there are no easy answer.