Pigeon English

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August 15, 2011 by markstani

Let me say, Stephen Kelman’s Booker Prize-longlisted Pigeon English (pub. Bloomsbury) is no comedy. But as we follow its narrator, 11-year-old Harri, through his bleak inner-city landscape, there’s plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. A full review will follow. For now, here’s five of the best:

1. Altaf is very quiet. Nobody really knows him. You’re not supposed to talk to Somalis because they’re pirates. Everybody agrees. If you talk to them you might give away a clue to where you keep your treasure and the next thing you know, your wife has been strangled alive and they’re throwing you to the sharks.

2. You can use the Computer Club computers for homework or email or internet. You can’t use them for chat room any more because everybody kept asking each other what colour pant they were wearing. Now chat room’s blocked. You can still do instant messages.

3. Asweh, all the tree fruits around here are either dirty or poison or disgusting. Even the mushrooms are too dirty to eat. Connor Green ate them once and he fell asleep for three whole days, and when he woke up he forgot what his name was or his favourite Poptart flavour, he had to learn it all over again.

4. They [the gods] were always going to destroy you unless you fed them with virgins. Asweh, early-times people were very stupid. A virgin is a lady who isn’t married yet. They’re prized because they’re so rare. Only the gods can eat them. Married ladies give them the shits. Everybody agreed.

5. The first thing everybody would do if they went to France is go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and do a massive spit. We all agreed. Only Connor Green would do a piss instead.

Connor Green: “Except the people at the bottom would probably try and catch it. They drink piss in France, innit. They think it makes them live longer. Thick bastards.”

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