14. Pigeon English: Stephen Kelman


I remember hearing a lot about this when it came out but I never got around to reading it. Then a few people in one of my book groups were talking about it and one of them very kindly e-mailed me a kindle copy.

Pigeon English is narrated by a young recently arrived immigrant from Ghana to inner-City London, Harrison. He talks about his day to day life after a local teenager is murdered on his estate. Harrison and his friends try to find out who the killer was, which is a game to them, and mess about like Year 7 kids do; playing with local dogs, winding up old people, throwing stones at buses, teasing his older sister and trying to avoid getting beaten up by the local gangs.

I loved Harrison’s narration- a quirky mix of London and Ghanaian slang, and so sweet, innocent and funny. He is really sympathetic character and you are really rooting for him throughout. Not a lot happens, but as an adult reader you can see between the lines as to the problems his family have had coming over to Britain and the violence and poverty that surrounds him. I would have said it’s truly uplifting but *spoiler alert* there is a shocking, sudden ending.

I think this is an important book, telling a very realistic story of life for many children and teenagers in Britain today, but told with humour.

5 stars

Up next: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson


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