Symbol of humanity's energy, optimism, art and civilisation, the city is the fount of intellectual and sexual freedom - a continuing source of wonder and modernity. And yet, in an uncaring mood, the city can be overbearing, anonymous, alienating, even savage - with the ability to chill the soul. The urban life, with all its challenges, pleasures and angst, is the theme of The Penguin Book of the City, an outstanding international collection of short stories. In their wonderful variety, they are as different - and as impressive - as Paris and Los Angeles, London and Tokyo. Deeply moving, wryly cynical, blackly humorous, these 29 stories by today's most intriguing writers will leave you gasping. Set against the backdrop of some of our great cities, they reflect the extraordinary power and mystery of the city itself.