An account of a Parisian squat in the journalistic tradition of Joan Didion and Joseph Mitchell, and an examination of the City of Lights and its ideas.
At a far edge of Paris where the banlieue began stood Le Bloc: a squat, or an occupied building. Eight stories tall and four basements deep, it took in artists as well as immigrants to France from various corners of Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Eviction threatened them all, and their story, told in poetically delicate, gripping narrative, animates an inquiry into exclusion from the city, conditions of artistic production within a city, and the basis of any right to a space.
These squatters' experiment carries echoes of the city's revolutionary and bohemian past. In the tradition of Walter Benjamin and other chroniclers of Paris, Feldman, an American essayist, draws on this history even as she raises questions of the most contemporary urgency about hospitality and refuge, ecology and the possibilities left for writing the City of Lights.