Finalist, Shaughnessey Cohen Prize for Political Writing
Longlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
Longlisted for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
"I needed to be where the posts were pounded into the ground and where nations stake territory in bald concrete. I needed to be along those who butter their bread in the cool shadow of a wall. I wanted to understand why the walls exist, what they mean to those who live within them, and how they make us sick."
In an ambitious blend of travel and reportage, Marcello Di Cintio asks, and attempts to answer, this question: what does it mean to live against a wall?
In Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, Di Cintio shares tea with Saharan refugees on the wrong side of Morocco’s desert wall. He visits the fenced-in villages of northeast India, and treks to Palestinian villages to witness protests against Israel’s security barrier. In the pages of Walls, the reader is brought to Native American reservations on the US-Mexico border, to Cyprus’ divided capital, and to the Peace Lines of Belfast. And lest we think we are immune to the lure of a divisive barrier, Marcello Di Cintio takes us to the so-called Great Wall of Montreal, the l'Acadie Fence.
"A wall built of chain links and steel posts separates the Town of Mount Royal, one of Montreal's most affluent areas, from Parc-Extension, the second-poorest urban neighborhood in Canada. I had heard the barrier called the Fence of Shame and the Wall of Shame – the same term used for the berm in the Western Sahara. I had read writers who referred to the barrier as ‘segregation fencing.’"
Throughout his journeys from wall to wall, Di Cintio seeks to understand what these structures say about those who build them, and how they influence the cultures that they cage. What sort of societies do these walls create? Are the structures built out of legitimate concerns, or are they expressions of fear and prejudice? Whatever the answers, Di Cintio ventures beyond the politics to discover what kind of life exists for the world’s fenced-in and forgotten people: those who live in the shadows of walls.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MARCELLO DI CINTIO has enjoyed stints abroad in West Africa, North Africa, India and the Middle East, including his recent residency in Palestine. His first book, Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa, was published in 2002. His second book Poets and Pahlevans: A Journey Into the Heart of Iran went on to win the Wilfred Eggleston Prize for Best Nonfiction and was a finalist for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction. Di Cintio also writes for numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Walrus, EnRoute, Geist, Reader’s Digest and the Globe and Mail.