Reading list: The secret life of cities

Five books and a film exploring the highs and lows of some notorious metropolises

The World Today Updated 4 February 2021 Published 2 February 2021 2 minute READ

Deljana Iossifova

Formerly a practising architect and now a lecturer in Urban Studies, University of Manchester

Down and Out in Paris and London
George Orwell, Penguin, £8.99 

Orwell’s first book-length work published in 1933 tells of life on the margins of society in Paris and London. The book takes the reader on a journey from the underbelly of Paris, where the main character works as a dishwasher, to the streets of London where he is forced to navigate the city’s network of tramp accommodation. Based on Orwell’s own experiences and targeting the upper classes, the book was written in a highly accessible language with the aim to expose urban poverty at the time.

Hotel Shanghai
Vicki Baum, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, £10.00 (in German) 

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