October 19, 2018

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman – Review

For those who read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Stephen Kelman’s writing style will be familiar to you. Written from the point of view of 11 year old Harrison Opoku (known to his friends as Harri), Kelman’s debut novel is honest, fresh and at times, amusing.

It is fair to say that Kelman has taken major risks with his first book; a talking pigeon, a child detective and London gangs to name a few. But despite its weaker moments, the book works. Based on the real life story of Damilola Taylor, it is essentially a murder mystery, told through the eyes of an innocent boy, recently moved to England from Ghana. At times the narrative is clunky and this may be down to the infusion of Ghana slang throughout, “Asweh” (I swear) and “hutious” (frightening) feature often.

There is nothing new by way of Kelman’s literary style, but what he may lack in originality he makes up for with a realistic representation of life in many criminal ‘hotspots’ around the globe. This lends itself to the innocence and tragic naivet√© of the story, which will have you thinking about the book long after you’ve turned the final page.

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