An Open Book and Empty Cup: London Regained – Iqbal Ahmed
The latest book by Iqbal Ahmed, who was born and raised in Kashmir, is a love letter to London, where he has lived and worked for the last twenty-six years.
In his previous, critically acclaimed books, Iqbal focused on the hopes and predicaments of immigrant friends and acquaintances in London, Britain and Germany. In this, his fourth book, he reflects on London itself and his personal reactions to it over the years he has spent as a hotel worker, dedicated cyclist, coffeehouse habitué, and father of an inquisitive young boy.
His perspective as an immigrant enables him to make unusual comparisons and to see London from unfamiliar angles: what others might overlook as trivial, he finds interesting, even extraordinary. The book includes chapters on such themes as the vagaries of borders, cycling in London at night, the allure of hotels, travelling on the London tube, and a fascinating portrait of a single affluent street, The Bishops Avenue in Hampstead.
The reader is taken on many an interesting detour as Iqbal’s observations weave back and forth in time and location, his impressions of London evoking potent memories of his childhood and youth in Srinagar.
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