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"The Lonely Londoners" by Sam Selvon

The Lonely Londoners - Samuel Selvon, Nasta Susheila

The Lonely Londoners is wonderful. Sam Selvon beautifully evokes immigrant life in 1950s London for various characters who have come to London from the West Indies for work and opportunity.

The tale is narrated by kindhearted but homesick Moses Aloetta who introduces us to some marvellous characters: newly arrived Galahad, ladies man Cap, Tolroy whose family have arrived en masse, Five Past, and many many more. The whole book is written in patois and it is this technique that brings it all to life - it flows like the best prose, is beautifully written and even the moribund slang sings. There's not really a story as such, just a flow of vignettes that touch on discrimination, the weather, relationships, friends, family, feuds, humour, fifties London and so on.

A really interesting, enjoyable and important book. Despite being rooted in the 1950s I suspect it contains universal truths for all people who seek a new life in a new and alien place.

Thanks to Val and Mark over at The Patrick Hamilton Appreciation Society for recommending it.