In Jerusalem, what you see and what is true are two different things. Maps divide the walled Old City into four quarters, yet that division doesn’t reflect the reality of mixed and diverse neighbourhoods. Beyond the crush and frenzy of its major religious sites, much of the Old City remains little known to visitors, its people overlooked and their stories untold.
Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City (Other Press in the North America, 2022; Profile Books in the UK, 2022) lets the communities of the Old City speak for themselves. Ranging through ancient past and political present, it evokes the city’s depth and cultural diversity. Matthew Teller’s highly original ‘biography’ features the Old City’s Palestinian and Jewish communities, but also spotlights its Indian and African populations, its Greek and Armenian and Syriac cultures, its downtrodden Dom Gypsy families and its Sufi mystics. It discusses the sources of Jerusalem’s holiness and the ideas – often startlingly secular – that have shaped lives within its walls. It is an evocation of place through story, led by the voices of Jerusalemites.
Roberto Mazza is visiting professor at Northwestern University. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at [email protected]
Twitter and IG: @robbyref
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