John Sweeney

Bad Neighbours

Walls: Travels along the Barricades

By

Union Books 287pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

There is an old Chinese proverb which Marcello Di Cintio cites in this charming if somewhat melancholic book on the world’s unneighbourly habit of building walls to keep the ‘other’ out: ‘Everyone pushes a falling fence.’ True, the Berlin Wall did fall down eventually, but pretty much every other piece of passive-aggressive street furniture Di Cintio walks along is still standing. It helps that the author is Canadian, a citizen of the least fenced-off country in the world. He brings a fair-minded, maple-baked sensitivity to the madness of dividing lines and barbed wire, but the effect is all the more saddening. If someone as uncholeric and sweet-tempered as Di Cintio found more despair than hope, it’s not a good sign. Still, he writes well, unpicking some of the world’s trouble spots in spare and lucid prose.

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