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The Lonely Londoners (Longman Caribbean Writer Series) unknown Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0582642645
ISBN-10: 0582642647
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is Selvon's best work. It explores the lives of a group of West Indians mainly Trinidadians and Jamaicans who leave the Caribbean to live in London. They came looking for a better life and what they found was bitter coldness both from the unforgivable winters and the cold prejudice of the people they encounter. They experience hunger and hopelessness, discrimination for jobs and on the job but they are able to survive. It tells much about the spirit of the West Indian abroad. I would recommend this book to anyone who both want to learn more about West Indian people and who enjoy a good laugh. It is Selvon at his best.

About the Author

Samuel Selvon (the unusual Indian surname appears to be Tamil) was born on 20 May 1923, into a middle-class Presbyterian family in San Fernando, the southern city of Trinidad. His half-Scottish, half-Indian mother looked after the home, while his Madrasee father tended his dry-goods store in San Fernando. His mother, who spoke Hindi and English fluently, encouraged her children to be similarly bilingual, but Sam confesses that he eventually managed only a few swear words and common phrases. Young Sam attended two Canadian Mission primary schools. One in San Fernando, and the other nearby. He remembers fondly that at the latter, Grant C M School, he received warm encouragement in English Composition from a particular teacher. Sam moved on to Naparima College in San Fernando, another Canadian Mission institute, and during an undistinguished academic career, developed an abiding love for his two favourite subjects, English Language and English Literature. It was at Naparima College that he became a voracious reader. In 1944, Selvon won a short story contest with a piece submitted to The Naval Bulletin, a publication of RNVR. He wrote both prose and poetry, often discarding what he wrote. One poem, however, was kept, and was later broadcast on the BBC radio programme 'Caribbean Voices' while Selvon was still in Trinidad. From RNVR, at the end of World War II, Selvon became a wireless operator with the Port of Spain Gazette, and shortly after, moved to the rival Trinidad Guardian. He spent three years with the newspaper, and left as sub-editor of special features. Feeling that Trinidad was stifling his growing interest in creative writing, Selvon left for England in March, 1950, aboard the same ship as George Lamming, whom he had met before but did not know well. In London, Selvon, unable to secure a position in journalism, freelanced, publishing articles on various subjects. He later became a clerk in the Indian Government Civil Service Department in London. Needing a change, after twenty-eight years, Selvon left England in 1978 for Canada, where he resides. At present, he is writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary, teaching and working on a new novel, which seeks to explore the rich intricacies of the Trinidadian psyche.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 141 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; unknown edition (January 11, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582642647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582642645
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. M. Farmbrough on June 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
The humour in this book makes it palatable. Otherwise the straitened circumstances of the characters would make you cry. The title sums it up. The post-war period in London was one of high immigration, with people re-settling due to the war, and due to the economic demands of Britain's economy for migrant workers. This is the story of a few of those migrants, concentrating mainly on the West Indian community, but also featuring a Polish woman. The story shows the daily lives of its characters, their difficulties in finding accommodation, the racism and fear they faced, and the rare examples of friendship from the quasi-indigenous population. The book is an easy read, and short enough never to become tiresome. Selvon occasionally sacrifices narrative consistency to make a few points, and this detracted slightly from my enjoyment of the book. On the whole, though, this comes highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
"The Lonely Londoners" is my favorite book of all time! With this purchase, I would have bought a total of five(5) copies. The other four however, have gone to the "loaned-a-friend-and-never-got-it-back" graveyard in the sky.
Selvon's account of West Indian immigramt life in 50's/60's London is riveting, poignant and tearfully funny. With realism and timeliness, he captures the unique brotherhood of survival that was the lifeblood of the network that sprung up in Brixton.
Wait until you meet "Tall Boy" as he greets his family at the boat train at Paddington. "All of we come...!"
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Format: Paperback
Only two books that I really could not put down (porn not included), 'White Merc with Two Fins' (the New York Times slagged it off, which is a good sign as any) and this Lonely Londoners. It's real, real Bitter Sweet - as in, yes Life is Hard, especially for non white immigrants coming to racist England (their "mother country") - a country lacking any decent Legal Constitution like the US (you guys really don't know how lucky you are!). My friend after reading it said, he understands why Morrisey could not happen in the Caribbean, meaning to dwell on hard times without using humour as a defense is gray like London's skies. The bitter sweet attitude of Sam's posse is an Island attitude that keeps us on the level. So how do these island boys, rural boys, handle the city....just read. There are two episodes of the book I can mention without giving anything away - look for the 10 page creole monologue about London at night and the sexual encounter between the Colonial island boy (could have been my dad!) and the Colonizer - white woman. Dammmm.... Once You Have Read IT, know this - there are 2 more books in the series.
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Had to buy this book for a class. I loved it though after discussing the vernacular used I remember still liking certain scenes and its making me want to go back to London while also appreciating the migration story and seeing parallels close to home.
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IN an era of teaching multiculturalism, this book by Sam Selvon is a pioneer and a work of genius and heartbreaking accomplishment. It's about the West Indian community in London after the massive immigrations but before the riots of the 1960s. Told in a kind of pigeon patois, this book is part picaresque, part travelogue, all the way funny and dark and lyrical and beautiful.
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Format: Paperback
This is Selvon's best work. It explores the lives of a group of West Indians mainly Trinidadians and Jamaicans who leave the Caribbean to live in London. They came looking for a better life and what they found was bitter coldness both from the unforgiveable winters and the cold prejudice of the people they encounter.
They experience hunger and hopelessness, discrimination for jobs and on the job but they are able to survive.
It tells much about the spirit of the West Indian abroad.
I would recommend this book to anyone who both want to learn more about West Indian people and who enjoy a good laugh.
It is Selvon at his best.
1 Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
A short (139 p) novel, yet one that wraps you up in the immigrant world of 1950s London. With the arrival of large numbers of Afro-Caribbean people, they face racism, the cold, the difficulty of finding work, loneliness and homesickness. As the somewhat embittered main character Moses observes:
'Looking at things in general life really hard for the boys in London. this is a lonely miserable city, if it was that we didn't get together now and then to talk about things back home we would suffer like hell. Here is not like home where you have friends all about.'
Yet for all that, there is the thrill of big city life, finding themselves in places they had only heard of before:
'He had a way, whenever he talking with the boys, he using the names of the places like they mean big romance, as if to say 'I was in Oxford Street' have more prestige than if he just say 'I was up the road.' And once he had a date with a frauline, and he make a big point of saying he was meeting she by Charing cross, because just to say 'Charing Cross' have a lot of romance in it, he remember it had a song called 'Roseann of Charing Cross.'
The descriptions of bleak, wintry scenes full of smog ('the sun shining...no heat from it, it just there in the sky like a force-ripe orange') with those of the eventual summer - girls, parties, hanging out in the parks; the new arrivals torn between going home and sticking it out...
This is a poetic read. Selvon introduces a number of characters in his novel - the workers and the hustlers; those who see the whites as alien and others who seek to be part of their community - so one doesn't have time to get particularly attached to any of them - but it evokes the atmosphere of the time brilliantly, particularly through the creolized language.
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