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The lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon

The lonely Londoners (original 1956; edition 2006)

by Sam Selvon, Nasta Susheila (Introduction)

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4161725,516 (3.66)49
Title:The lonely Londoners
Authors:Sam Selvon (Author)
Other authors:Nasta Susheila (Introduction)
Info:London: Penguin Books (2006)
Collections:Read but unowned, Read All Time, Read in 2012
Tags:English Literature, British Literature, Novel, CASS

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The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon (1956)

Recently added bylovelypenny, private library, AmieB7, KateVz, ericandsue, thorold, RachelLeah, jkyrova, Michael.Xolotl, roblong
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The Lonely Londoners was Selvon's second novel, written in the first couple of years after he arrived in Britain from Trinidad. As you might expect, it deals with the problems and hardships of newly-arrived Caribbean immigrants in London: the difficulty of finding decent jobs and accommodation, coping with British people who hadn't yet learnt to live with people from different backgrounds, and so on. What you don't expect, though, is what Selvon does with this subject-matter. Never one to fit into anyone else's stereotype of what a postcolonial writer should be, he sets the squalor of immigrant life against the glory of exploring your youth and independence in a city like London. He turns it into a glorious, upbeat poetic celebration of London and of Caribbean individuality: imagine Damon Runyon writing Mrs Dalloway after listening to too many calypsos, or James Kelman if he were a few decades older and Trinidadian not Glaswegian, and you get the general idea, but you really have to read it yourself.
Like a lot of British writing of the 1950s, it's all rather misogynistic: it's a novel about a bunch of young men on the loose in which women appear only as disposable girlfriends or embarrassing mothers, but Selvon usually makes it pretty clear that he doesn't intend you to take his narrator's view of things entirely at face value. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jan 2, 2016 |
The Lonely Londoners centers around the life of Moses Aleotta, a West Indian, who has lived in London for 10 years. He makes a new friend named Galahad who is struck by the brilliance of London. Moses sees himself in this newcomer, how at first he was full of hopes and dreams that diminished during his ten years of living there, and knows that Galahad will become disillusioned. Though he attempts to not get Galahad's hopes up, Moses himself changes throughout the novel and becomes hopeful again,as he discovers that if his West Indian community sticks together, they can still live in their own culture and find ways to survive in London.

This is the story of London's West Indians who face racism and a limited number of opportunities. What I found really interesting about this novel is how it is written in the vernacular, a West Indian English which gave the novel a different rhythm. This novel is a gem, I am glad one of my professors had the class read it. It is definitely a great starting point if you want to read more Caribbean literature. ( )
  est-lm | May 3, 2014 |
bookshelves: london, lifestyles-deathstyles, britain-england, published-1956, winter-20132014, contemporary
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 04 to 12, 2014


BBC Blurb: Sam Selvon's rich and touching 1956 novel about the lives of a group of Caribbean immigrants in London opens as Moses Aloetta, an old hand who has lived in the city for ten years, goes to Waterloo station to meet another boat train of hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies. They've come to find work and wealth in the capital of the mother country, but they meet with a cold welcome and bitter weather. Despite this, Moses and his friends of the Windrush generation go about making new lives for themselves with vigour and panache, navigating the rules and regulations of their new home, lending support to each other when needed, learning to survive; it's not long before, as Moses puts it, 'the boys coming and going, working, eating, sleeping, going about the vast metropolis like veteran Londoners.'

The Lonely Londoners will be broadcast the week before Colin MacInnes' vibrant novel about London, Absolute Beginners, set just a couple of years later as racial tensions rise; together the two books offer an unforgettable portrait of a city and a society undergoing convulsive change.

Reader: Don Warrington Abridged by Lauris Morgan-Griffiths Producer: Sara Davies.

1. Don Warrington reads Sam Selvon's 1950's classic about the lives of a group of Caribbean immigrants in London.

2. Moses has met Sir Galahad off the boat train at Waterloo and sets about introducing him to his new home. Galahad is keen to show he's not overawed by London, but a trip to the employment exchange leaves him in need of Moses' help.

3. Moses's friend Tolroy was horrified when his entire family turned up at Waterloo, wanting to enjoy his new prosperity in London. He has eventually got them settled off the Harrow Road, and Aunt Tanty is rapidly becoming a well-known character in the area. But she still hasn't ventured into the centre if the city by tube or bus, something that she decides to remedy.

4. Galahad is getting on well in London, in fact he sometimes feels like a king as he strolls through the park, three or four pounds in his pocket, sharp clothes on, off to meet a new girl under the clock in Piccadilly tube station. But there's a darker side to the city, and a hungrier one, that prompts Galahad into a high-risk exploit.

5. As summer comes to the city, Moses's friend Harris organises a dance, and Moses contemplates his life after ten years in London.

Listen here. Theme tune: LORD KITCHENER - London Is the Place for Me

That is the first time I have noticed a broadcasting mistake - they aired #3 on Tuesday and #2 on Wednesday. Keeps us on our toes! ( )
  mimal | Jan 12, 2014 |
A novel about a group of West Indian immigrants in London in the 1950s; focusing on Moses who at the beginning of the novel has been there for years and who's forever asked to meet and advise newcomers and towards the end feels that he hasn't got much to show for all those years. It's also a novel about London, the rhythms of London life, written in a style that pulls you into the story. ( )
  mari_reads | Oct 26, 2013 |
The Lonely Londoners is wonderful. Sam Selvon beautifully evokes immigrant life in 1950s London for various characters who have come to London from the West Indies for work and opportunity.

The tale is narrated by kindhearted but homesick Moses Aloetta who introduces us to some marvellous characters: newly arrived Galahad, ladies man Cap, Tolroy whose family have arrived en masse, Five Past, and many many more. The whole book is written in patois and it is this technique that brings it all to life - it flows like the best prose, is beautifully written and even the moribund slang sings. There's not really a story as such, just a flow of vignettes that touch on discrimination, the weather, relationships, friends, family, feuds, humour, fifties London and so on.

A really interesting, enjoyable and important book. Despite being rooted in the 1950s I suspect it contains universal truths for all people who seek a new life in a new and alien place. ( )
  nigeyb | Oct 19, 2013 |
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One grim winter evening, when it had a kind of unrealness about London, with a fog sleeping restlessly over the city and the lights showing in the blur as if is not London at all but some strange place on another planet, Moses Aloetta hop on a number 46 bus at the corner of Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove to go to Waterloo to meet a fellar who was coming from Trinidad on the boat-train.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0582642647, Paperback)

The Lonely Londoners from the brilliant, sharp, witty pen of Sam Selvon, this is a classic award-winning novel of immigrant life in London in the 1950s.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:54 -0400)

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