Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman – ring true?   Leave a comment

I was really looking forward to reading this much-hyped book, loosely based on the death of Damilola Taylor.

It is written from the point of view of an eleven-year-old arrival from Ghana, living on an estate.  And from the supposed point of view of a pigeon.

I really, really wanted to like this book and find it insightful and meaningful.  I expected to feel upset, and wretched, and distressed.  I felt none of this.  The problem for me was that the main character just didn’t ring true.  I know children of about his age who are from Africa and live on estates and they just aren’t like this.  Some of them are family friends, some of them I teach.  To me, Harrison didn’t have the depth of thought that my own, much younger, children do or the younger children I teach do.  Whereas an older child who was also a migrant would surely have more, especially in their inner-most thoughts? I didn’t believe in him.  And once I didn’t believe in him, then the rest of it largely fell apart.  The pigeon as guardian angel bit left me cold.

The Book Group questions provided at the end such as “”Has the novel in any way changed the way you think about youth gangs, knife crime or urban poverty” demonstrated what the novel was trying to do.  For me, it didn’t do it.

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Posted August 26, 2012 by imaginatemum in Books, London

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