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  • Published: 16 August 2022
  • ISBN: 9781784743260
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $32.99

Imagine a City

A Pilot Sees the World




The bestselling author of Skyfaring celebrates the world's cities from his perspective as a pilot

**A Financial Times Best Summer Book of 2022**

'A journey around both the author's mind and the planet's great cities that leaves us energised, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives' ALAIN DE BOTTON

'A moving account of personal unbelonging' THE TIMES
'Vanhoenacker... has a near-bottomless appetite for fresh sights and guidebook curiosities... Intimate and thoughtful' PICO IYER, AIR MAIL
___________________

Growing up in his small hometown, Mark Vanhoenacker spun the illuminated globe in his bedroom and dreamt of elsewhere - of distant, real cities, and a perfect metropolis that existed only in his imagination. These places were sources of endless fascination and escape: streets unspooled, towers shone, and anonymous crowds bustled in cities where Mark could be anyone - perhaps even himself.

Now, as a commercial airline pilot, Mark has spent nearly two decades crossing the skies of our planet, touching down in the cities he imagined as a child. He experiences these metropolises in short layover visits that repeat month after month and year after year, giving him a unique perspective on the places that form our urban world.

Interweaving travelogue with memoir, Mark celebrates the cities he has come to know and love through the lens of the hometown his heart has never left. Exploring the emblematic facets of each city's identity - the sweeping roads of Los Angeles, the old gates of Jeddah, the intricate, dream-inspired plan of Brasília - he shows us with warmth and fresh eyes the extraordinary places that billions of us call home.

'A love letter to the cities he's returned to again and again... Vanhoenacker captivates when describing the silent beauty of a world glimpsed from above' Washington Post
'Enriching... Luminous... A touching survey of human dreams and endeavours' PATRICK GALE
'Will transport you around the globe and back again without leaving your seat' MARK OVENDEN, author of Airline Maps and London Underground by Design

  • Published: 16 August 2022
  • ISBN: 9781784743260
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Mark Vanhoenacker

Mark Vanhoenacker left academia to work as a management consultant, a position that afforded him regular opportunities to stare out of aeroplane windows and recall childhood dreams of becoming a pilot. He began his flight training in 2001. Today, as a Senior First Officer for British Airways, Mark flies Boeing 747s to major cities around the world. He is also a regular contributor to the New York Times and Slate. When his head is not in the clouds, he divides his time between London and New York.

Also by Mark Vanhoenacker

See all

Praise for Imagine a City

A enriching memoir of how a sensitive, introverted boy's yearning for escape and acceptance found its fulfilment in the life of an airline pilot... A touching survey of human dreams and endeavours and a hymn to the quiet pleasures of returning, in the flesh or in memory, to the intimate geography of one's hometown

Patrick Gale

A enriching memoir of how a sensitive, introverted boy's yearning for escape and acceptance found its fulfilment in the life of an airline pilot... A touching survey of human dreams and endeavours and a hymn to the quiet pleasures of returning, in the flesh or in memory, to the intimate geography of one's hometown

Patrick Gale

Mark Vanhoenacker is a beautiful, lyrical writer who uses his experience as a pilot to bring us constantly in touch with the transcendent and the other-worldly

Alain de Botton

Mark Vanhoenacker is a beautiful, lyrical writer who uses his experience as a pilot to bring us constantly in touch with the transcendent and the other-worldly

Alain de Botton

Refreshingly personal and moving... This absorbing modern twist on the age-old story of flying the nest, yet yearning for home, will transport you around the globe and back again without leaving your seat

Mark Ovenden, author of AIRLINE MAPS and LONDON UNDERGROUND BY DESIGN

Refreshingly personal and moving... This absorbing modern twist on the age-old story of flying the nest, yet yearning for home, will transport you around the globe and back again without leaving your seat

Mark Ovenden, author of AIRLINE MAPS and LONDON UNDERGROUND BY DESIGN

An utterly remarkable and original travel book. Like Jan Morris and Pico Iyer, Vanhoenacker weaves memoir and travelogue, using his unusual perch as a pilot to take us on an incredible journey to dozens of cities around the world. Like Italo Calvino, he somehow weaves it all into one, a painfully beautiful cubist city of memory and dreams that rises out of his warm and lyrical prose

Andrew Blum, author of TUBES and THE WEATHER MACHINE

An utterly remarkable and original travel book. Like Jan Morris and Pico Iyer, Vanhoenacker weaves memoir and travelogue, using his unusual perch as a pilot to take us on an incredible journey to dozens of cities around the world. Like Italo Calvino, he somehow weaves it all into one, a painfully beautiful cubist city of memory and dreams that rises out of his warm and lyrical prose

Andrew Blum, author of TUBES and THE WEATHER MACHINE

A tour de force of descriptive power and honesty; I can think of no other book like this one

Tom Zoellner, winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

A tour de force of descriptive power and honesty; I can think of no other book like this one

Tom Zoellner, winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Dreamy and erudite... [Vanhoenacker is] a most likeable, warm-hearted narrator with an original world view

Melanie Reid, The Times

Dreamy and erudite... [Vanhoenacker is] a most likeable, warm-hearted narrator with an original world view

Melanie Reid, The Times

I absolutely love the way Mark Vanhoenacker writes about the world; he gives you a whole new way of seeing

Jenny Colgan, author of SUNRISE BY THE SEA

I absolutely love the way Mark Vanhoenacker writes about the world; he gives you a whole new way of seeing

Jenny Colgan, author of SUNRISE BY THE SEA

Vanhoenacker is exceptionally well travelled, and an exceptionally curious and widely read observer... He doesn't waste an hour, and with every return his engagement with each city deepens... Superb

Jonathan Buckley, Times Literary Supplement

Vanhoenacker is exceptionally well travelled, and an exceptionally curious and widely read observer... He doesn't waste an hour, and with every return his engagement with each city deepens... Superb

Jonathan Buckley, Times Literary Supplement

Imagine a City is really about home... a variation on the Great Expectations narrative, with our young hero feeling uncomfortable where he grows up, flying the nest for a series of transformative experiences but discovering he can never quite leave home nor fully return

Spectator

Imagine a City is really about home... a variation on the Great Expectations narrative, with our young hero feeling uncomfortable where he grows up, flying the nest for a series of transformative experiences but discovering he can never quite leave home nor fully return

Spectator

Quietly thoughtful without being either self-conscious or -indulgent. Vanhoenacker retains a refreshing sense of good fortune and even amazement that one can step into a cylindrical metal tube and emerge hours later into different air, different sunlight and a different world picture

Peter Neville-Hadley, South China Morning Post

Quietly thoughtful without being either self-conscious or -indulgent. Vanhoenacker retains a refreshing sense of good fortune and even amazement that one can step into a cylindrical metal tube and emerge hours later into different air, different sunlight and a different world picture

Peter Neville-Hadley, South China Morning Post

Imagine a City... will enchant and even move anyone who feared in recent years for the future of both travel and urbanism

Janan Ganesh, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2022*

Imagine a City... will enchant and even move anyone who feared in recent years for the future of both travel and urbanism

Janan Ganesh, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2022*

More personal [than Skyfaring], but with the same reassuringly precise and perceptive voice

Tom Robbins, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2022*

More personal [than Skyfaring], but with the same reassuringly precise and perceptive voice

Tom Robbins, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2022*

What makes Mark Vanhoenacker's Imagine a City such a joy, is that this is a travel book entirely rooted in modernity and globalization... but which nonetheless retains the wide-eyed wonder, not so much of a 19th-century explorer as of a medieval pilgrim

Tim Hannigan, Asian Review of Books

What makes Mark Vanhoenacker's Imagine a City such a joy, is that this is a travel book entirely rooted in modernity and globalization... but which nonetheless retains the wide-eyed wonder, not so much of a 19th-century explorer as of a medieval pilgrim

Tim Hannigan, Asian Review of Books

In this new work, Vanhoenacker... plunges deeper into his own past growing up in Pittsfield as a gay man... His autobiographical vignettes are searching and touching, delivered with an affectionate lyricism

Pico Iyer, Air Mail

In this new work, Vanhoenacker... plunges deeper into his own past growing up in Pittsfield as a gay man... His autobiographical vignettes are searching and touching, delivered with an affectionate lyricism

Pico Iyer, Air Mail

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