The City and the Writer

Natalya Handal


I have a passion for cities, their irresistible unrest, the way they make you feel unsettled yet welcomed. I also have a passion for books. It’s hard not to think of the Czech Republic when one mentions Milan Kundera. Just as it’s difficult when one mentions the mystical Tangiers to not think of Paul Bowles and his ex-patriot life among the Moroccans. Since I was young, authors and their books have made me long to visit the places and cultures described. Not just to experience the stories and people they introduced me to, but to discover the parts, certainly more vast, they couldn’t. And the secrets not published. Or, perhaps, not shared given the constraints of good storytelling. I mean, Gabriel García Márquez has given those who haven’t been to Colombia an immense insight into Bogota, but wouldn’t his recommendation and thoughts on the city reveal surprise?

In 2009, Rohan Kamicheril, then an editor at Words without Borders, asked me to be a contributing writer to the magazine—writing reviews, translating. I was very keen on working with WWB but wanted to participate in a different way. So I proposed the idea of writing the literary travel column The City and the Writer, a vibrant and wide-ranging forum for the exploration of cities through the writing of local authors. The series began on September 24, 2010, and has since featured well-known and emerging writers from around the globe.

CW is a map of architectural metaphors. A space to wander and discover curves and corridors, rooms and ruins, windows and worlds, colors and translucencies. A space to return to because each time you will find something new—an empty cove, a quieter corner, a ghost, a familiar voice, a history untold, a coliseum. 


The City and the Writer @Words Without Borders:

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ISSN 2465-2415


Journal sponsored by

Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche



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Header: "Ally McBeal's Washroom". Ph. Enrica Picarelli