Local author Ben Judah has been wowing the critics with his latest book, This is London: Life and Death in the World City. It is an epic account of contemporary London. He dresses as a beggar and spends the night in the underpasses at Hyde Park corner with 16 homeless Roma. He meets rich Arabs, Nigerian policemen, witchdoctors, drug dealers and body washers. He slips between ethnicities and postcodes and between rich and poor.
White City gets a whole chapter in the book. Judah was born on the Goldhawk Road and knows the area well.
So what inspired him to write it in the first place? “I set out to see how London had changed since I was child. In many ways I felt I no longer recognized the place.” He adds, “ I don’t know if I love the new London or if it frightens me.”
Although he has spent a large chunk of his life in and around Shepherd’s Bush, he has lived abroad and spent his childhood in the war-torn Balkans. He reported the Georgian War while still at university and spent some years covering Russia and Central Asia. His first book Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell in and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin (Yale, 2013) was also greeted with critical acclaim. Judah has now turned his foreign correspondents eyes on London and hunts out both the shocking and bizarre.