Friday, 6 April 2018

"The Lonely Londoners" by Sam Selvon - April 2018

The novel, about Jamaican immigrants in 1950's London, was very readable with a clear voice written in authentic dialect. The group members found the language was well crafted and authentic, and one could hear the characters' voices really well. The author made the scenes come to life, and group members could imagine the novel very well visually. They felt that the author really knew the characters he was talking about, and depicted them richly. Yoiu could hear the sadness, loneliness, and being stuck inbetween two places at once - immigrants always missed their home country and home life, but were not really in a position to ever return home again unless they had "made it" in London. Our readers enjoyed the rich different characters in the novel; some whose attitude was to bring their home village life to the streets of London, and some who got stuck in low paying job and having their high expectations dashed, making it even more impossible to return to Jamaica. Some readers felt that it was a shame that the attitudes and experiences of women weren't explored more in the novel, and commented on the misogyny of a lot of the male characters, but also noted that this absence of women was partly the reason the men in the novel experienced isolation, and felt that the attitudes to the women felt very true to the time and the situation. Immigrants in 50's London wouldn't have had many female friends around them, and were also struggling to reconcile different societal structures between men and women back home and in the "Mother Country".

It was interesting to hear our group members' own experiences of London / Jamaica and immigrants in the 60's, and parents first generation experiences coming to the UK, and how shocking the contrast between the cultures was, and what racist attitudes immigrants experienced in Enlgand. The ones who didn't have a chance to read the book yet were definitely looking forward to giving it a go.
By Cordula

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