November 7, 2019 Julian

National Geographic – Athens

Illustration : Jacqui Oakley

Earlier in the year I was asked by National Geographic to write about a place that was dear or to me, and quite quickly settled on the Greek capital of Athens.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Greece and in Athens in the last few months, and my time and writing there is slowly joining with older essays about Istanbul and Turkey. Together the work will form part of a broader project about immigration and refugees moving through the region.

Athens is a beautiful city with a radical spirit, a place where the people have been hit hard by banking crises that were not their fault, but where that spirit persists against all adversity. In the city, a place to which so many of the refugees from wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa have moved, you get a feeling of failed Western foreign policy and failed Western economic models all simultaneously falling back upon the shores and cities of Europe.

That is the main principle of my writing taking-shape, and of the article, which I hope you enjoy.

My next book, Fifty Miles Wide, is out in April and documents a bike ride for a thousand miles of Israel and Palestine. It is a hard subject to write about, and I’m trying simply to tell the stories I was told – or became part of while I was there – with the fidelity they deserve. I look forward to being able to give more news, including a date for a launch event, in early 2020.

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