Alistair's Reviews > Pigeon English

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
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M 50x66
's review
Mar 14, 2012

it was ok
Read in January, 2012

It was okay, about summarises it.
The trouble with books which have been shortlisted, or awarded something, is that you approach them expecting to be impressed. I wasn't impressed. I didn't dislike it, it was not bad, I just wasn't impressed.
Good things:
- I like a child narrator. I think it's probably an easy way to get sympathy for your main character. On the whole, I liked his figure of speech, though it was not in itself enough to keep me interested.
- It made me think a little about what life must be like for these, generally good, kids living on an estate with all those sorts of challenges.
Not-so-good things
- It took too long. Nothing 'happened' for large swathes of the book. It seemed to me pretty obvious for a long time where the book was going, and it just took a long time to get there.
- Much as I like a child narrator, with an unusual voice, it started to grate after a while.
- Sometimes I get the impression that a books setting and it's theme is just set up to try and be a little shocking, in this case, immigration and the murder of a child (no spoiler there - this is early in the book). Often, you can forget this, and get on and enjoy the book. Other times, it just feels like shocking-by-numbers. In this case, it felt like the latter.
- Ultimately, I found the premise too unlikely. The boy may have been young and foreign, but he wasn't portrayed as stupid. Some of his actions seemed to be contrived to be stupid to bring about the ultimate ending, and I found this unconvincing. No spoiler there either, I don't think.

It was okay. Just. (1.9 stars).
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