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Salaam Brick Lane: A Year in the New East End

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4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  350 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
After 10 years living abroad, Tarquin Hall wanted to return to his native London. Lured by his nostalgia for a leafy suburban childhood spent in south-west London, he returned with his Indian-born, American fiancee in tow. But, priced out of the housing market, they found themselves living not in a townhouse, oozing Victorian charm, but in a squalid attic above a Banglades ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by John Murray
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(showing 1-30)
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Samantha
Sep 17, 2009 Samantha rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. I was amusing & easy to read. Takes you back through the ages, a history of the East End & all of the different people that have passed through it & settled over the years. From as far back as the Huguenot silk weavers back in the 1700's to the Irish, the Jews & more recently, the Bangladeshis. What I found amusing was, these so-called 'British' people that shout the loudest about getting foreigners out of the country, when they traced back through their ...more
Richard Thompson
Probably our favorite Tarquin Hall book so far. We have read and enjoyed all the titles in the Vish Puri detective series, and TO THE ELEPHANT GRAVEYARD.

After working as a reported in India for three years, Hall comes back to England with the intention of settling back into the life he remembers growing up there. But things have changed. He had very little money and London is now a much more expensive place to live. The only marginally suitable place he can find in decrepit third story apartment
...more
Leo Africanus
Oct 25, 2008 Leo Africanus rated it really liked it
A kaleidoscopic account of a posh man's brush with the East End of London.
John Brookes
This is my first review of many on Goodreads that will chart my journey on a Round the World trip through literature... which commenced May 22nd 2009. I am travelling the globe through literature (fiction and narrative non-fiction), starting in London, England.

I have mapped out a route around the world, as well as a book (or books for larger countries) to represent each nation that I am travelling to.

Just so you know, my constraints are:
1) Book must be fiction or narrative non-fiction (i.e. not
...more
Smitha
Feb 27, 2014 Smitha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
After reading ‘The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken’ by Tarquin Hall, I started checking out the other books by the author. The one which caught my eye was not one of the Vish Puri series, but this one- ‘Salaam Brick Lane’. The fact that it was non-fiction, set in London’s East End sounded very interesting.

Tarquin Hall returns to England after 10 years abroad. Returning back he realizes to his dismay that he cannot afford to live in the leafy suburbs of his childhood. He had been priced out of
...more
Max
Aug 09, 2013 Max rated it really liked it
I'm reading this book because of the author-To the Elephant Graveyard won me over. Salaam got good reviews and I'm thinking that it will get me acquainted with our ever changing world. When we are familiar with something we are less afraid of it and hence less threatened by it. Our culture is changing and I'm thinking this book will help me understand it without prejudice as well as be a very good read.
Only into this a few chapters but already I have a sense of what it is like to have been uproo
...more
Jim Dressner
Jan 11, 2013 Jim Dressner rated it liked it
Shelves: international
The author chronicles his experiences and relationships in one year of living in a small attic apartment on Brick Lane in East London. He does an admirable job of unearthing the background stories and ongoing drama of a rich set of characters. He exposes the common thread linking the old East End of Victorian times through the changes to the current situation with Asian immigrants.

Perhaps the most interesting idea was that the British have always assimilated peoples, ideas, and food. I have hea
...more
Melanie
Feb 18, 2016 Melanie rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Three and a half stars, really. I love Hall's Vish Puri mystery series, and knowing he is also a journalist, I wanted to read some of his non-fiction. This is a beautifully written account of one year early in his life that he spent living on Brick Lane in London, not the neighborhood he was hoping for when he moved back to his home city after some years abroad in India--but all he could afford.

Brick Lane and its East End surrounds used to be the Cockney neighborhood of Eliza Doolittle fame, bu
...more
Laura
Aug 23, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
Proof that you need not travel to the ends of the earth to write a gripping travel narrative; humility, a sense of humor and keen observation skills will open up even the city of your birth in fascinating ways. I liked the fact that Hall's book touches on many very timely topics, such as English vs. British identity, who is "really" English, asylum seekers, etc. but not in a heavy handed or preachy way. He meets a wide variety of people and relays their stories but does not condescend to his rea ...more
Susan
Dec 17, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this. It is not fiction but an entertaining account of the author's year living on Brick Lane. It was made all the more interesting for me as my son had a flat almost exactly the same as the one Tarquin Hall describes . The author is an excellent observer of human characteristics and captures accents to a T.

He describes cultural characteristics and describes delicious foods . He meets people from many different countries who arrived in Brick Lane through different routes and f
...more
Lauren
Mar 26, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it
A memoir of living in London’s East End, Salaam Brick Lane is an enjoyable if overly pointed tale.

Moving back to London after several years abroad, Tarquin Hall discovers the only place he can afford is the East End, London’s notorious neighborhood known for its poverty and crime. For centuries, it’s stood as the place where immigrants begin their life in England, and the current iteration is composed of immigrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Mr. Hall does a nice job of interweaving
...more
Sally Coupal
Fascinating partial autobiography and a grand story of immigrants both legal and illegal who live in the originally cockney part of London. How this very diverse group of people manage to get along with one another and times when they don't. All the striving to better themselves and at the same time ho they can come together when threatened. The excitement of the author and his fiancee to be able to move out of their dismal quarters that they had improved greatly over when they moved in. The cul ...more
Marcus Gipps
Aug 28, 2010 Marcus Gipps rated it liked it
I picked this up during a very dull moment at a bookstall for American students. I think it was on their reading list to give them a flavour of London. Which is fine, but it is, of course, a very specific flavour. Nicely written, and often amusing (and occasionally touching, which is harder), but the author's 'oh, I'm posh but a nice guy and isn't the area of town I live in rough and aren't I understanding of these people's problems and cultures' became a little grating at times.
Liam Keogh
Dec 29, 2016 Liam Keogh rated it it was amazing
I could be biased because I currently live in the East End, but I absolutely loved reading about the history and the author's impressions of the area. Excellent cast of characters, each with their own fascinating and often heartbreaking stories. I moved to the area 8 years ago (and roughly 8 years after the year in question); it has clearly changed a great deal since Mr Hall was there, and is still doing so at quite some pace.
Rogue Reader
Mar 29, 2015 Rogue Reader rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-england
Tarquin Hall's marvelous prose describes the East End of London, the best he could afford after spending his savings hunting down the elephant book. Written while sending out the elephant book, and after his American-Indian fiance comes to live in the squalor of the East End, Hall discovers the true nature of Englishness, the amalgamation of anything and everything foreign into the British culture. Home.
Jacqueline  Scott
Mar 05, 2015 Jacqueline Scott rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent memoir about the culture shock of moving back to London after a decade in Asia. I loved how the writer weaves between feeling lost in a poor area of London, the history of the area and his longing for his girlfriend. The book has plenty of humour. The writer brings the characters of Brick Lane alive from the old Jewish woman with the stuffed cat to the Bangladeshi landlord who is stunned that his daughter is going to a top university. The book is an excellent read.
Kathryn
Sep 24, 2008 Kathryn rated it liked it
This book describes the characters - mainly immigrants - that the author came to know during a year living in a run-down flat in Brick Lane. Interesting to me as I am married to an ex-East Ender from Whitechapel who knew Brick Lane well as a boy, and I know enough about the area to have a point of comparison.
Nicole Renee
Jul 06, 2016 Nicole Renee rated it really liked it
I really liked reading this book because as an American, I didn't have much knowledge of the East End. Upon finishing the book, I felt like I'd learned a great deal about the various cultures in the area. I enjoyed how the author included specific details that I looked out for while visiting. Lastly, I liked how this novel was set up and how it was all about many different personal stories.
Melisa
Oct 03, 2011 Melisa rated it it was amazing
Pretty much the best kind of book for me -a memoir written by someone who's both extremely observant and bitingly funny. There's a great cast of characters from Bangladeshis to Albanians with a bunch of others tossed in. There's history and self-reflection and even a cat. This book, by the author of the charming Vish Puri mysteries is an all around great read.
cloudyskye
Nov 15, 2012 cloudyskye rated it liked it
All in all I really liked this, but:
T. H. could really have added a picture or two of his fiancée's roof garden. (BTW, having lived together all this time, by the time they get married, they already seem like an old married couple ...)
And doesn't everybody know about the English being a "mongrel race"? Why did one of his new friends spend such an age with pointless research??

Amber
Apr 21, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it
Interesting memoir about a year the author (a native Briton) spent in London's immigrant-heavy East End, while he struggled to make it as a writer. Lots of good stories, and perspective, on the backgrounds of the various cultures and people living in the area, and also on how London has changed during the last 20 years.
Mike
Jan 02, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
Interesting, absorbing story about the colorful characters in and challenges of life in London's East End. The author discovers that after a life abroad, 'home' is perhaps not what you thought it was, and that national boundaries are exceedingly arbitrary.
Debs
Sep 11, 2014 Debs added it
Absolutley loved this fascinating insight into life in the modern and tough East End. Almost felt as if I lived there alongside the many different characters. each character made a major and lasting impact on the author during his time there...truly fascinating and a real eye opener.
Suzanne
Jul 05, 2009 Suzanne rated it liked it
Author lives in Brick Lane for a year. Somewhat uneven, half documentary, half impressionistic, personal recollections. Well written, but I fear it will soon pale to insignificance: no real lasting memories from it.
Vincent Anton
Apr 27, 2010 Vincent Anton rated it it was amazing
This is a book that you can't put away, funny and riveting, great story and so human in many levels; set in England's east end; Immigrant communities, coexisting with one another and so many human interactions that the author brings to life so vividly. Give it a try.
Vincent
Sanjay
Aug 06, 2007 Sanjay rated it really liked it
A well-researched and highly-readable saga of how Brick Lane has played host to waves of immigrants over the centuries, from Irish to Jewish to Bangladeshi – and how this has redefined notions of "Englishness". Personal vignettes and eccentric characters add to the charm.
Michelle
Sep 23, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
An autobiographical review of what it means to be English, Londoner, Cockney, and East Ender... I was glad to take the journey, which melded history, linguistics, and slice-of-life immigrant reality. I feel the East End must be the Bronx of London, and am enjoying thinking out the comparison.
Robin Seyfert
May 09, 2015 Robin Seyfert rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It has so much information and peaks into so much history and culture. It's absolutely fascinating, and very well written. Definitely read it and let me know which other books by Tarquin Hall you like. He's a great writer and a great observer of life.
Mya
Jun 15, 2014 Mya rated it liked it
It's about the author's year of living in the East End of London, so there's no real plot or story line or ending. I enjoyed the characters and he managed to get the level of detail right. It was interesting.
Madeleine Resuehr
Apr 30, 2014 Madeleine Resuehr rated it really liked it
Fascinating read, funny, human, a real insight into life in East London - which is changing again.
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Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has lived and worked throughout South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He is the author of The Case of the Missing Servant, dozens of articles, and three works of non-fiction, including the highly acclaimed Salaam Brick Lane, an account of a year spent above a Bangladeshi sweat shop in London’s notorious East End. He is married to Indian-born jo ...more
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