Pigeon English – Stephan Kelman

Pigeon_English_(Kelman_novel)READ FOR BOOKERTHON

Ghana migrant Harrison Opoku unbalances the hierarchical balance in his community when he speaks out about the murder of school mate.

✔ “Harri Opoku is 11 years old when he moves from Ghana to a London housing estate with his mother and sister. The estate is filled with gangs and violence and routines unfamiliar to an immigrant. But more troubling to Harri is the usual trauma of simply growing up, of who will be his friend and whether he can remain the fastest runner at school.

When a boy in his class is murdered, Harri and his new friend Dean decide to play detective, hunting down clues from around the estate and observing people who seem suspicious, in a search for the killer. But their investigations start to draw some unwanted attention.

As well as the obvious reference to the Pidgin English spoken by many immigrants, the title also refers to an actual pigeon which Harri things is watching over him, and guiding and protecting him during his dangerous pursuit.

The book was published to much fan-fare, with apparently 12 British publishing houses bidding to win the rights to the manuscript.

What your problem is, you’re all just a raindrop. One of an endless number. If only you’d just accept it, things would be so much easier. Say it with me: I am a drop in the ocean. I am neighbour, nation, north, and nowhere. I am one among many and we all fall together. Or maybe I’m just a rat with wings and I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Suzy and Rachel ended up with different views of Pigeon English.

The story of desperate immigrants told from the point of view of a young protagonist who is seeing and experiencing a new world for the first time was appealing to Suzy. It was heart-warming, harrowing and deeply personable.

Rachel agreed but found the narrative wandered a bit of course sometimes. Plus the narrative wasn’t always convincing as being from an 11-year-old boy. Or a pigeon. But still very readable and one worth recommending.

Published 2011
Bloomsbury Publishing
288 pages

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