“The public spaces at the heart of our regenerated cities turn out not to be very public at all (as the Occupy protesters found when they tried to camp in privately owned Paternoster Square in the City and were forced to fall back on the Church).”
Edwin Heathcote’s review of Owen Hatherley’s critique of Britain’s 21st century urban development, A New Kind of Bleak in the Financial Times points out one of the fundamental arguments of the book, namely the failure of modern city planning to engage and involve the communities within which and ostensibly for which it is built.
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.
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.
Laura Oldfield Ford's Savage Messiah is reviewed for domus by Owen Hatherley. Hatherley describes it as a "self-published montage of fragmentary memoir, revolutionary fantasy and startlingly raw architectural draughtsmanship." In Hatherley's eyes, Ford's artworks are
pervaded alternately with ghostly, overgrown renderings of the harsh, sublime social architecture of the 1960s, especially well represented in Oldfield Ford's native West Yorkshire and adoptive East London.
As the year draws to a close, newspapers have been asking the great and the good which books have most impressed them in 2011. Here we have collected the Verso books that were featured.
In the New Statesman, Guardian and Observer Books of the Year round ups, Hari Kunzru selected two Verso books as standing out from other books published this year. He explained the appeal of the titles to the New Statesman:
With the Occupy movement gaining ground throughout the world, McKenzie Wark's smart overview of the situationist movement, The Beach Beneath the Street: the Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International, feels particularly timely. For years, Laura Oldfield Ford, who is very influenced by situationism, has produced a fanzine, based on her derives around London, with words and beautiful, confrontational line drawings of the city's forgotten people and neglected places. Now, Savage Messiah has been collected in book form. It is a wake-up call to anyone who can only see modern cities through the lens of gentrification.
In the Guardian feature on the Best Books of 2011, a number of Verso titles were selected by those asked.
Among the 2011 books that came my way I particularly welcomed Owen Jones's Chavs, a passionate and well-documented denunciation of the upper-class contempt for the proles that has recently become so visible in the British class system.
I loved two very different books of criticism...[one was] Owen Hatherley's furiously pro-Modernist A Guide to the New Ruins of Britain
Liberalism: A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo stimulatingly uncovers the contradictions of an ideology that is much too self-righteously invoked.
I'm reading Chris Harman's A People's History of the World. It's really helpful to zoom out from time to time when you're living massive events at very close quarters.