Art, if you want a definition of it, is criminal action. It conforms to no rules. Not even its own. Anyone who experiences a work of art is as guilty as the artist. It is not a question of sharing the guilt. Each one of us gets all of it.
I spent most of the past four years hanging out with street hawkers, smugglers, and sub-rosa import/export firms to write Stealth of Nations, a book that chronicles the global growth of System D--the parallel economic arena that today accounts for half the jobs on the planet.
Prior to that, I lived in squatter communities across four continents to write Shadow Cities, a book that attempts to humanize these vibrant, energetic, and horribly misunderstood communities.
My articles on cities, politics, and economic issues have appeared in many publications, including Harper's, Scientific American, Forbes, Fortune, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Metropolis, and City Limits. Before becoming a reporter, I worked as a community organizer and studied philosophy. I live in New York City and do most of my writing on manual typewriters.