BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Londonstani by Gautam Malkani [in Christian Science Monitor]

LondonstaniHere’s what makes Londonstani a difficult read: “Yeh, blud, safe … Gora ain’t seein double, innit.”

Fortunately, for American readers, the U.S. edition comes with a glossary to help decode the West London, South Asian, rudeboy street slang. Translation of the above passage? Something along the lines of “Yes, brother, okay. The white male isn’t seeing double, right?”

The novel’s language is also rough in another sense: throughout the book’s dialogue, obscenities abound.

But that said, deciphering the multiple layers of this first novel by Gautam Malkani, wunderkind and creative business editor of the Financial Times, offers a worthy reward, both in its delicious surprise ending (pages 13 and 240 have innocuous clues, but I’ll say no more), and in the deeper meaning it imparts to easy catchwords such as “assimilation” and “multiculturalism.”

British ethnic literature is currently bling (read: “flashy,” as in desirable), with latest Orange Prize-winning Zadie Smith as its reigning queen. Malkani, together with Tarun Tejpal (whose Alchemy of Desire is scheduled to make its U.S. debut this December) are two of the British publishing industry’s brightest stars this season. With its favorable reviews on the other side of the Pond, the buzz around Londonstani is quickly traveling Stateside. …[click here for more]

Review: Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2006

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2006 (United States)


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