Mytholder (mytholder) wrote,

Blog a Penguin Classic

I signed up for this a few weeks ago, and got my book last week. Review of THE LONELY LONDONERS below the cut.

Reading Sam Selvon's THE LONELY LONDONERS is precisely like being on a long bus journey with a talkative, eccentric and charming elderly black man. It's written entirely as the West Indian characters speak ('by and by he drift down to Whitelys. Suddenly he stand up and look back'), which gives the book an odd charm as Selvon (or Moses, the main narrator) rambles on about various colourful (in both senses of the word) immigrants in 1950s London. There's no real plot, just anecdote after anecdote, but the writing style carries you along.

Questions of race, class and colour dominate the stories, but Selvon makes no judgements, and the book is not a polemic. This is how it happened, this is how it was, say the stories, and while the lazy days and warm weather of the old country are painted in idealised terms, it is the characters who are doing the idealising. It's a very human story, with pain and loss and loneliness and confusion and doubt touching every anecdote, but the warmth and humour come through just as strongly.

It didn't change my life or touch me deeply, but I'll remember this book. It's a chance encounter with a world I've no experience of, a brief glimpse of other lives and another culture, and I'm very glad I read it.
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