In the summer of 2009, Alain de Botton will be invited by the owners of Heathrow airport to become their first ever Writer in Residence.
He will be installed in the middle of Terminal 5 on a raised platform with a laptop connected to screens, enabling passengers to see what he is writing and to come and share their stories. He will meet travellers from around the world, and will be given unprecedented access to wander the airport and speak with everyone from window cleaners and baggage handlers to air traffic controllers and cabin crew.
Working with the renowned documentary photographer Richard Baker, de Botton will produce an extraordinary meditation upon the nature of place, time, and our daily lives. He will explore the magical and the mundane, personal and collective experiences and the interactions of travellers and workers all over this familiar but mysterious site.
Like all airports, Heathrow (the 15th century village of Heath Row lies beneath the short stay car park) is a 'non-place' that we by definition want to leave, but it also provides a window into many worlds - through the thousands of people it dispatches every day. A Week at the Airport is sure to delight de Botton's large following, and anyone interested in the stories behind the way we live.
Author Biography: Alain de Botton is the bestselling author of books on the philosophy of subjects including love, travel and status. He is the founder of The School of Life, an organisation in London for whom he has conducted a guided weekend tour of Heathrow airport.
You'll read this book with a wry smile. I love the way he sees the airport's security staff as 'like thriller writers ... paid to imagine life as a little more eventful than it customarily manages to be'. For his part, he gives meaning to things most people would see as meaningless - a very useful talent -- William Leith * Evening Standard *
Funny, charming and slender enough to pack in your carry-on... * Daily Mail *
Simultaneously poignant and terribly funny ... de Botton's most imaginative work yet * Spectator *
He makes a fine fist of pondering transient life in Terminal 5. * The Times *
Shrewd, perceptive and gently ironic ... At de Botton's T5, banality and sublimity circle in a perpetual holding pattern -- Boyd Tonkin * Independent *
This is best read sitting in the afternoon sunlight with a glass of wine to add to the cumulative appreciation of this interesting and insightful book. * Canberra Times, Australia *
Alain de Botton's amusing, small book should not be missed by people of the Third Age ... it's jolly, perceptive and human * Adelaide Review, Australia *
I read Alain de Botton's A Week at the Airport with smiles of recognition, nods of approval and sighs of admiration. Most people can't wait to get away from airports. I'm very glad he stayed. -- Michael Palin * Guardian *