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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

Pigeon English


Pigeon English Cover





You could see the blood. It was darker than you thought.

It was all on the ground outside Chicken Joes. It just felt


 Jordan: ‘Ill give you a million quid if you touch it.

 Me: ‘You dont have a million.

 Jordan: ‘One quid then.

 You wanted to touch it but you couldnt get close

enough. There was a line in the way:


 If you cross the line youll turn to dust.

 We werent allowed to talk to the policeman, he had

to concentrate for if the killer came back. I could see

the chains hanging from his belt but I couldnt see the


 The dead boys mamma was guarding the blood. She

wanted it to stay, you could tell. The rain wanted to come

and wash the blood away but she wouldnt let it. She

wasnt even crying, she was just stiff and fierce like it was

her job to scare the rain back up into the sky. A pigeon was

looking for his chop. He walked right in the blood. He was

even sad as well, you could tell where his eyes were all pink

and dead.

* * *

The flowers were already bent. There were pictures of the

dead boy wearing his school uniform. His jumper was


 My jumpers blue. My uniforms better. The only bad

thing about it is the tie, its too scratchy. I hate it when

theyre scratchy like that.

 There were bottles of beer instead of candles and the

dead boys friends wrote messages to him. They all said he

was a great friend. Some of the spelling was wrong but I

didnt mind. His football boots were on the railings tied up

by their laces. They were nearly new Nikes, the studs were

proper metal and everything.

 Jordan: ‘Shall I tief them? He dont need em no more.

 I just pretended I didnt hear him. Jordan would never

really steal them, they were a million times too big. They

looked too empty just hanging there. I wanted to wear

them but theyd never fit.

Me and the dead boy were only half friends, I didnt see

him very much because he was older and he didnt go

to my school. He could ride his bike with no hands and

you never even wanted him to fall off. I said a prayer

for him inside my head. It just said sorry. Thats all I

could remember. I pretended like if I kept looking hard

enough I could make the blood move and go back in the

shape of a boy. I could bring him back alive that way. It

happened before, where I used to live there was a chief

who brought his son back like that. It was a long time

ago, before I was born. Asweh, it was a miracle. It didnt

work this time.

 I gave him my bouncy ball. I dont need it anymore, Ive

got M ve more under my bed. Jordan only gave him a pebble

he found on the floor.

 Me: ‘That doesnt count. It has to be something that

belonged to you.

 Jordan: ‘I aint got nothing. I didnt know we had to

bring a present.

 I gave Jordan a strawberry Chewit to give to the dead

boy, then I showed him how to make a cross. Both the two

of us made a cross. We were very quiet. It even felt important.

We ran all the way home. I beat Jordan easily. I can

beat everybody, Im the fastest in Year 7. I just wanted to

get away before the dying caught us.

The buildings are all mighty around here. My tower is

as high as the lighthouse at Jamestown. There are three

towers all in a row: Luxembourg House, Stockholm House

and Copenhagen House. I live in Copenhagen House. My

flat is on floor 9 out of 14. Its not even hutious, I can look

from the window now and my belly doesnt even turn over.

I love going in the lift, its brutal, especially when youre

the only one in there. Then you could be a spirit or a spy.

You even forget the pissy smell because youre going so


 Its proper windy at the bottom like a whirlpool. If you

stand at the bottom where the tower meets the ground and

put your arms out, you can pretend like youre a bird. You

can feel the wind try to pick you up, its nearly like flying.

 Me: ‘Hold your arms out wider!

 Jordan: ‘Theyre as wide as I can get em! This is so gay,

Im not doing it no more!

 Me: ‘Its not gay, its brilliant!

 Asweh, its the best way to feel alive. You only dont

want the wind to pick you up, because you dont know

where it will drop you. It might drop you in the bushes or

the sea.

In England theres a hell of different words for everything.

Its for if you forget one, theres always another one left

over. Its very helpful. Gay and dumb and lame mean all

the same. Piss and slash and tinkle mean all the same (the

same as greet the chief). Theres a million words for a bulla.

When I came to my new school, do you know whats the

first thing Connor Green said to me?

 Connor Green: ‘Have you got happiness?

 Me: ‘Yes.

 Connor Green: ‘Are you sure youve got happiness?

 Me: ‘Yes.

 Connor Green: ‘But are you really sure?

 Me: ‘I think so.

 He kept asking me if I had happiness. He wouldnt stop.

In the end it just vexed me. Then I wasnt sure. Connor

Green was laughing, I didnt even know why. Then Manik

told me it was a trick.

 Manik: ‘Hes not asking if youve got happiness, hes

asking if youve got a penis. He says it to everyone. Its just

a trick.

 It only sounds like happiness but really it means a penis.


 Connor Green: ‘Got ya! Hook, line and sinker!

 Connor Green is always making tricks. Hes just a confusionist.

Thats the first thing you learn about him. At least

I didnt lose. I do have a penis. The trick doesnt work if

its true.

Some people use their balconies for hanging washing

or growing plants. I only use mine for watching the

helicopters. Its a bit dizzy. You cant stay out there for

more than one minute or youll turn into an icicle. I

saw X-Fire painting his name on the wall of Stockholm

House. He didnt know I could see him. He was proper

quick and the words still came out dope-fine. I want to

write my own name that big but the paint in a can is too

dangerous, if you get it on yourself it never washes off,

even forever.

 The baby trees are in a cage. They put a cage around the

tree to stop you stealing it. Asweh, its very crazy. Whod

steal a tree anyway? Whod chook a boy just to get his

Chicken Joes?

Product Details

Kelman, Stephen
Mariner Books
Foer, Jonathan Safran
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 9
59 halftones; 12 pages w/ color
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 14

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Coming of Age
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Cultural Heritage
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction

Pigeon English Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Mariner Books - English 9780547737423 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This hilarious and heartwrenching novel follows eleven-year-old Harri Opuku, recently emigrated 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.
"Synopsis" by ,
"Intelligent, observant." —The New Yorker

"If your patrons liked Roddy Doyles Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and if they rooted for Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionaire, they will love Harri Opoku." —Library Journal, starred review

"In turns funny and tragic . . . Its message is universal." -Huffington Post

Advise yourself! Jump into Pigeon English and experience the jubilant, infectious voice of Harrison Opoku—a boy awed by the city, obsessed with gummy candy, a friend to everyone he meets. See why he is bo-styles. How being the fastest runner in Year 7 makes him dope-fine. And how crazy things get when Harri and his best friend launch their own investigation into the murder of a classmate and one of the Dell Farm Crews hutious criminals feels them closing in on him. Youll want this book to last donkey hours, and youll see why Harri is truly a “hero for our times.”*

"Like Room . . . and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . . . Pigeon English is a novel for adults told in the remarkable voice of a child. In this fine company, Kelman's novel stands out." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Since Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, there have been certain rules observed when children play detective. Stephen Kelman throws them all out." —Christian Science Monitor

"Synopsis" by , "Intelligent, observant." —The New Yorker   "Since Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, there have been certain rules observed when children play detective. Stephen Kelman throws them all out . . . The mystery is secondary to the pleasures of listening to Harri." —Christian Science Monitor   "Like Room… and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . . .Pigeon English is a novel for adults told in the remarkable voice of a child. All three virtuosic novels are worth reading if only to enjoy the spell those voices create. In this fine company, Kelman's novel stands out." —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"In turns funny and tragic. . . . Its message is universal." -Huffington Post

"If your patrons liked Roddy Doyles Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and if they rooted for Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionaire, they will love Harri Opuku." —Library Journal, starred review

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