In Jerusalem, what you see and what is true are two different things. The Old City has never had “four quarters” as its maps proclaim. And beyond the crush and frenzy of its major religious sites, many of its quarters are little known to visitors, its people ignored and their stories untold. “Nine Quarters of Jerusalem” lets the communities of the Old City speak for themselves. Ranging from ancient past to 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.
Matthew Teller’s “Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City” (Profile Books, 2022) was named a Book of the Year by the Daily Telegraph. Matthew writes for the BBC, Guardian, Independent, Times, Financial Times and other global media. He has produced and presented documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and World Service, and has reported for Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ from around the Middle East and beyond. He is the author of several travel guides, including the Rough Guide to Jordan. His previous book was “Quite Alone: Journalism from the Middle East 2008–2019”.
This event is co-sponsored by Edinburgh Jewish Studies Network and the Scottish Network for Religion and Literature.
We are delighted to welcome Chitra Ramaswamy to talk about her latest book: a hybrid biography/memoir exploring her friendship with a 98-year-old German Jewish refugee called Henry Wuga. The two of them might seem unlikely friends: one born in 1970s Britain to Indian immigrant parents, the other fleeing Nazi Germany on a Kindertransport in 1939. And yet, Homelands is a book about common ground; a story of migration, antisemitism, racism, family, belonging, grief and resilience. It won the Saltire Society Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2022 and is available in all good bookshops. Signed copies can be purchased at Toppings.
Chitra Ramaswamy is a journalist and author from London. Her latest book, Homelands: The History of a Friendship, published by Canongate in April 2022, is a work of creative non-fiction exploring her friendship with a 98-year-old German Jewish refugee called Henry Wuga. It won the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year and was included in The Guardian’s top memoirs and biographies of 2022. Her first book, Expecting: The Inner Life of Pregnancy, published by Saraband in April 2016, won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize. She has contributed essays to Antlers of Water, Nasty Women, The Freedom Papers, The Bi:ble, and Message From The Skies and is currently working on a commission from the Alasdair Gray Archive. She writes for The Guardian, is the restaurant critic for The Times Scotland, and broadcasts for BBC radio. She lives in Edinburgh with her partner, two children and rescue dog.