The Navigator newsletter lands in your inbox every other Saturday. Sign up here!

I have a long summer reading list that I keep adding to and reshuffling. At the very top is Turner House by Angela Flournoy, which I’m reading at the moment.

The book tracks members of the Turner household, a large African-American family living in Detroit. It starts in 1958 with a haunting at the Turner house on Yarrow Street. The oldest Turner sibling, 14-year-old Cha-Cha, claims to have been attacked by a ghost in the middle of the night—triggering a pile-up of his hysterical siblings at his doorway. But his father, Francis, doesn’t buy his children’s account.

“There ain’t no haints in Detroit.”

But, of course there are—metaphorical ones, at the very least.

Detroit’s past hovers over the family. And Flournoy fleshes out the city’s history—the 1960s unrest, the white flight, the subsequent neglect—in the same delicate, but incisive way she does her characters’ individual stories. So far, I find the novel to be a refreshing lens through which to learn about Detroit—a city I’m fascinated by, but haven’t spent too much time in.

So, let me ask you: Is there a book you’ve read that has upended a narrative or offered a fresh perspective about a place you’re familiar with it, or a place you’d like to know better? Drop me a line at tmisra@theatlantic.com.

Detroit’s train station. (Daryl Alexsy)

What we’ve been writing:

CityLab’s Linda Poon is in Seoul, South Korea, with a team of student journalists. Check out her dispatch about Seoul’s pink-clad, yogurt-delivery aunties who whizz around town in motorized carts. Get on the Seoul-train (heh) for the rest of our coverage here.

Other highlights: When the local newspaper gets nixed, cities are not just culturally and politically poorer—but also literally poorer. ¤ The Bay Area’s wave of surf NIMBYism. ¤ Delicate renderings of the New York City subway. ¤ On the demise of teen car culture. ¤ A Congolese artist creates paper cityscapes bursting with color and optimism. ¤

Place de la Ville. 1993. (Courtesy of The Museum of Everything)

What we’ve been taking in:

“Music carves public space into private territory, signaling certain areas are off limits to certain groups through orchestral ‘intimidation.’” (Los Angeles Review of Books) ¤ The forgotten women of the Bauhaus movement. (ArchDaily) ¤ Hanoi, after the war. (The New York Times) ¤ The anatomy of a food truck. (Washington Post) ¤ The queer history behind the movie A League of Their Own. (Narratively) ¤ When a photographer gave cameras to rural kids around the world. (New Yorker) ¤ An animated guide to never getting lost. (Atlas Obscura) ¤ The Mumbai man who mastered the American crossword. (Narratively) ¤

(Emma Darvick)

This week’s bonus recommendation comes from CityLab contributor Lyndsey Gilpin, who curates a great weekly newsletter about ecology, justice, and culture in the American South:

Despite how it’s often portrayed, Appalachia is complicated, nuanced, and diverse. I loved episode four of NPR’s Embedded: Coal Stories, which dug into the history and complexities of race in the region with a simple story: how two young best friends—one black and one white, one a Trump critic and one a Trump supporter, one a coal miner and one struggling to find a steady job—are navigating the immense changes happening here.

Finally, I’m going to leave you with something that’s apparently trending: brutalist home goods! Garden gnomes! Tetra Soaps! Cuckoo clocks that resemble famous buildings! I know where CityLab’s Mark Byrnes and Kriston Capps are spending their pocket money this summer.

View from the ground:

@vickophoto showed us a cyclist tackling stairs in Quebec, @alisonawtrey captured Newark Penn Station after hours, @jklou1996 shot Pyeongchang from above, and @storiesfromdna photographed the architecture of Russia’s Petrogradsky District.

Tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #citylabontheground.

Over and out,

Tanvi

@Tanvim

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    How Manhattan Became a Rich Ghost Town

    New York’s empty storefronts are a dark omen for the future of cities.

  2. Transportation

    Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S.

    The widespread failure of American mass transit is usually blamed on cheap gas and suburban sprawl. But the full story of why other countries succeed is more complicated.

  3. Equity

    How a Booming City Can Be More Equitable

    In Durham, North Carolina, abandoned factories are becoming tech hubs and microbreweries. But building a shared commitment to its most vulnerable citizens could be a trickier feat of redevelopment.

  4. A pink-shaded map of Los Angeles showing student debt burden
    Equity

    The Neighborhoods Buried In Student Debt

    How much of your paycheck goes towards student loans?

  5. vacant store fronts in mining town in Arizona
    Equity

    America’s Worsening Geographic Inequality

    The economic gap between have and have-not places continues to widen.