Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

“I have a special place in my heart for debut novels and am pleased to recommend another, this time from British author Stephen Kelman.  His manuscript was the focus of a fierce bidding war among publishers and was released earlier this year in the United Kingdom to glowing reviews (an adaptation has also been commissioned by the BBC).   After reading it, I can understand why.

The hero of the story is eleven year old Harrison Opuku.  Harri to his friends, he is a recent arrival to England from Ghana.  Harri is still young enough to believe he can influence the world around him by whether or not he steps on cracks in the sidewalk, but at the same time old enough to be recruited by neighborhood gangs as a potential member.  It is this juxtaposition of innocence and experience that I found so interesting and which reminded me of another well received British novel, Little Bee.

The story begins with the murder of a local teenager and is told from Harri’s point of view. He liked the victim and, along with some of his friends, turns detective to try and solve the mystery of who perpetrated this crime. I quickly became very fond of Harri and especially loved his musings on British culture and British English (again, shades of Little Bee).  Harri loves his family, has a crush on his classmate, Poppy, and just wants to be happy and good. But he’s not living in a world that makes that easy—and the tension in this book comes from watching as Harri attempts to navigate a dangerous world he is too young to fully understand.

The book was just put on the Man Booker prize long-list of nominated titles.”

Find and request this book in our catalog.

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2 Responses to “Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman”

  1. jacquelincangro Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’m going to add this to my list.

  2. Janet L. Says:

    You are welcome. Glad to hear you’ve put it on your to-read list!

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