Amy's Reviews > Pigeon English

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
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's review
Aug 05, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, read-in-2011, booker-prize-shortlist
Read in August, 2011

Books narrated from a child's point of view can be really good or really not, I think. This one was good but not great. Told from the perspective of an 11-year-old (I think) boy recently emigrated from Ghana to London, it's an easy read and I quickly liked this boy. Once you get used to his slang and his overall speech patterns, it flows well (aside from the talking pigeon parts). His perspective on his life (lived basically in low-income urban London filled with gang violence) gives a funny viewpoint on things that you know (as an adult reading) are actually tragic. But because it is written in this child's voice, there's some kind of separation or distance somehow -- maybe because his view is so innocent that there's no deeper analysis into what is going on. I'm not sure, I guess I just felt there was something missing. And seriously, WHAT IS THE DEAL with the talking pigeon?? Those parts just seemed out of place to me. However, it did seem very timely to be reading this book while all the riots were going on in London; there is a lot here about youth culture in low-income areas of UK cities.

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