Jeremy Seabrook's remarkable new book gives a unique account of the lived experience of people in the vast and ever-expanding cities of South Asia. From Bangkok, Bombay, Dhaka, Manila, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and Kuala Lumpur, Seabrook brings stories of survival, endurance and uncelebrated heroism, stories with uncanny echoes of life in Britain in the early industrial and urban era. At the same time, he provides a powerful analysis of the restructuring of urban life in South Asia, as the world moves towards a 'single integrated economy'.
The book's greatest strength lies in its evocation of daily life, its vivid descriptions of besieged communities, together with the extraordinary individual tales of some of the thousands of migrants who arrive daily in these megacities of the South. Jeremy Seabrook pays special attention to the position of labour in the cities, both organized and unorganized, to the unrecorded struggles of industrial workers in the suburbs of Jakarta, or garment workers in Bangkok and Dhaka. In doing so, he highlights the convergences between North and South which are likely to become sharper as workers in Britain and other Western countries are forced into even fiercer competition with those of South Asia.
Jeremy Seabrook has a rare ability to listen, to observe and to record faithfully, which complements his grasp of political and economic realities. Above all, his writing here is indelibly marked by a sense of solidarity which is neither sentimental nor rhetorical. The result is not only a series of unforgettable portraits and stories, but a profoundly important study of social transformation.