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Pigeon Englishby Stephen Kelman
Synopses & Reviews
Lying in front of Harrison Opuku is a body, the body of one of his classmates, a boy known for his crazy basketball skills, who seems to have been murdered for his dinner. Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and detective techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. They gather evidence — fingerprints lifted from windows with tape, a wallet stained with blood — and lay traps to flush out the murderer. But nothing can prepare them for what happens when a criminal feels you closing in on him. Recently emigrated from Ghana with his sister and mother to London's enormous housing projects, Harri is pure curiosity and ebullience — obsessed with gummy candy, a friend to the pigeon who visits his balcony, quite possibly the fastest runner in his school, and clearly also fast on the trail of a murderer.
Told in Harri's infectious voice and multicultural slang, Pigeon English follows in the tradition of our great novels of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world.
"Kelman's debut novel is a well-tuned if simplistic portrait of a kid's life in the housing projects of London. After 11-year-old Harri, whose family has immigrated from Ghana, sees a classmate lying dead on the sidewalk one night, Harri and his buddy, Dean Griffin, set out to solve the murder, looking for the murder weapon, interviewing suspects, and gathering evidence. But the strength of this novel is not its murder mystery; rather, it's in hearing all Harri's thoughts as he falls in love, talks to his baby sister, or expresses himself in his own idiosyncratic language. The street-talk slang that Harri uses — boring things take 'donkey hours' and Nike Air trainers are 'bo-styles' — is crisp and mirthful, the perfect match to his at once naïve and revealing views on things like religion and race. The main flaw is also a feature: Harri's a very well-drawn 11-year-old, and no matter how cute he and his worldview are, it's sometimes tempting to want to pat him on the head and send him along his way. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boys love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through. Pigeon English is a triumph." Emma Donoghue, author of Room
"Rich with lingo, energy, and occasional terror, Pigeon English is a stark and funny look at life in London's rough housing projects. A compelling anatomy of our inner cities, Stephen Kelman's debut novel navigates the hectic, modern world while coping with its most violent accompaniments." Tony DSouza, author of Whiteman and the forthcoming Mule
"Utterly convincing and deeply moving, this is a book that we should all read if we want to understand the ugly world that we have somehow managed to create on the edges of society." Clare Morrall, author of the Booker-shortlisted Astonishing Splashes of Colour and The Man Who Disappeared
"Pigeon English in a category beyond genre...This [is a] work of deep sympathy and imagination." Boston Globe
"The humour, the resilience, the sheer ebullience of its narrator — a hero for our times — should ensure the book becomes, deservedly, a classic." Mail on Sunday (UK)
"Pigeon English is a book to fall in love with: a funny book, a true book, a shattering book...If you loved Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or Emma Donoghue's Man Booker-shortlisted Room, you'll love this book too." The Times (UK)
A first-person novel about an 11-year-old boy from a Ghanaian immigrant family who moves to London.
This hilarious and heartwrenching novel follows eleven-year-old Harri Opuku, recently immigrated from Ghana to the rough housing projects of London, as he tries to navigate inner-city life. See what makes our good-hearted protagonist dope-fine, become acquainted with his bo-styles, and find yourself wanting this touching debut to last donkey hours.
About the Author
Stephen Kelman grew up in the housing estates of Luton and is the first member of his family to enter further education. He's worked variously as a cleaner, a warehouse operative, and in marketing and local government administration but decided to pursue his writing seriously in 2005. Pigeon English is his first novel.
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