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Salaam Brick Lane: A Year in the New East End Paperback – April 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
"Salaam" is non-fiction and set in early 2000's London. Hall has returned home to London, after spending much of his life as a wandering journo in India and other East Asia countries. Unable to afford a flat in a more affluent area of London, Hall rents a flat (though more like a pit) in Brick Lane in the East End of London. This area has been the home of many ethnic groups who've emigrated to London as a sort of "first stop" on their way "up" in British society. As each group has abandoned the area, other, poorer, emigrants have taken their place. The East End (right next to the City and near the Isle of Dogs) was heavily bombed during WW2.
Today the area is largely populated by Bengali Muslims (from a certain area in Bengladesh), Indian Hindus, and a scattering of Somalis, Albanians, and other groups from the old Yugoslavia. Rare are the old English "cockneys", who lived in the area until the '70's. What is astounding is the way the Muslims and Hindus seem to get along in the tight confines of the East End.
Hall's year in the East End is written in a non-sensational way. He finds friends among all the ethnic groups and seems totally accepted as a fellow "East Ender". Though the area is fairly poor, most everybody eakes out a living, some in a more "honest" fashion than others. (Lots of things "falling off the backs of trucks" in local stores.) Hall and his girlfriend (now wife) learn a lot in their year in Brick Lane and he explains it all beautifully in his book.
I'm now waiting for his third (actually his first) book to arrive. It's about a savage elephant in India. Looking forward to it.
This man writes with such spot-on ethnicity that you can hear the accents, smell the odors, taste the foods and become immersed in the environs and feel like a neighbor yourself. I loved it.
His own discovery of East End is told through the lives of people he meets and gets to talk. It's not a distant and cold narrative, though. On the contrary, he is directly involved in the intricate fabric of immigrant society through his American-born Indian fiancee. Yet he manages to limit the account of his personal story to the amount that relates to people he observes.
Overall "Salaam Brick Lane" is an honest and clear account of a short slice through East End.
Actually, I found his writing style somewhat reminiscent of James Herriot (Alf Wight), one of my all-time favorite authors. Made this book even more enjoyable.
I highly recommend this book!
Compared to Monica Ali's Brick Lane this is a larger scope of the area but in reading both books I found that one does complement the other because the characters in Brick Lane never get to see much or learn much from the area.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a delightful book! It took me three copies to finish because I kept recommending and lending copies to friends. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Z. Z.
Writing about immigrants to London from the point of view of someone who grew up there, but returned to UK without the money for a middle class life is difficult, but Mr. Read morePublished 20 months ago by George H. Conklin
After spending ten years abroad as an international journalist, Tarquin Hall returned to his native London. Read morePublished on January 26, 2014 by LH422
Very interesting. It brings this part of London to life and almost makes me want to live there. It's especially interesting to me because I recently read "Call the... Read morePublished on November 26, 2013 by Serena
Great book of racial diversity i the East End of London. Nice to see the humourous side of mixed races compared to the emphases on racial tensions. Read morePublished on October 13, 2013 by CJ
It is lovely book about Tarquin's year in Brick lane! Reading the book I was remembering my two years in London walking Brick lane and past Spitalfields Flower Markets to home! Read morePublished on July 9, 2013 by Ravi S.
The author moves back from overseas and lives in London's east end. He gets to know his neighborhood and its background. Read morePublished on January 30, 2013 by Jdrez
I read 2 of the Vish Puri mysteries and enjoyed them. I actually like Tarquin Hall's journalistic style even better. Read morePublished on November 26, 2012 by Shopping Is Fun