04.02. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelmen

Travelling days are a great opportunity to relax for the day, get a bit of reading done and recover from sensory overload. I picked this book up at Orly airport on the way to Berlin and read it over the course of a couple of flights.
It sounded promising, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011 and the cover has recommendations from the Guardian and Emma Donoghue. But to be honest, I was a little disappointed by this book- though it was an easy and enjoyable read.
It’s the story of 11 year-old Harrison Opoku, newly arrived in an English public housing estate from Ghana. And it is told in Harrison’s voice. He is an endearing character, an innocent surrounded by evil and danger. The book is funny in parts, as Harrison relates the world just as he sees it. But the pervading feeling of the novel is ominous, opening as it does at the scene of a murder- the murder of a “half friend” of Harri.
Kelman is keen for us to have a sense of how social injustice impacts even the strongest family, as Harri’s sister and mother find themselves increasingly compromised and out of control. The pervading sense of menace throughout the book is very strong and compels you forward through the novel.
Just a bit disappointed, but 3 stars all the same.