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Book Title: Londinesi solitari|
Date of issue: 1997
ISBN 13: 9788804432388
The author of the book: Sam Selvon
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 32.31 MB
Read full description of the books Londinesi solitari:Oh, the lovely, lonely Londoners! What a charming surprise!
Expecting a bleak story of the harsh reality of Caribbean immigrants living in London in the 1950s, I was delighted to discover so much more than that, a colourful study of the city as seen through the lens of a group of newly arrived people, with plenty of dreams and plans and experience to compare with London life. It is the story of a group of West Indians trying to find a decent life for themselves in a hostile (social) climate, where they are immediately recognised and treated as second-rate foreigners, both because of their skin colour and because of their specific language.
But at the same time, it is a panorama of individual characters, both good and bad, strong and weak, minding their own businesses and meddling in that of other people, hungry for food and entertainment and meaningful ways to pass the time:
“Everybody living to dead, no matter what they doing while they living, in the end everybody dead.”
They face racism, and reflect on how differently it is expressed in Britain compared to the American segregation of the 1950s. The painful experience of being either too visible, or invisible, comparable to Ellison’s New York version of Invisible Man in the 1930s, is expressed in an inner dialogue between one of the characters and the colour Black:
“And Galahad watch the colour of his hand, and talk to it, saying, ‘Colour, is you that causing all this, you know. Why the hell you can’t be blue, or red, or green, if you can’t be white? You know is you that cause a lot of misery in the world. Is not me, you know, is you! I ain’t do anything to infuriate the people and them, is you! Look at you, you so black and innocent, and this time so you causing misery all over the world!”
They deal with cultural clashes and misunderstandings, and the trouble arising when one Caribbean is behaving badly and the whole community is blamed. But the story is also about adjusting to a new culture, learning to cruise a big city, to appreciate living in a multicultural, adventurous environment, and to cope with hardship while keeping hope in the future alive, about connecting to new traditions while cherishing own heritage. It is about sexual freedom and modern life style, clashing with old, traditional domestic violence and outrageous misogyny, both within and beyond the Caribbean community.
What makes this story delightful to read, despite its sad context of loneliness, isolation and alienation, is the colourful expressiveness of the characters, all individual and typical at the same time. Everybody is likely to have a relative similar to Tanty, who comes to London as an old woman and takes over the environment she lives in immediately, forcing her will and her charisma on the London working class road just like she would have done in Kingston. She masters public transportation despite her anxiety that the far too tall buses may capsize, and she dances at parties, whether her involuntary dance partners like it or not. From the moment she arrives at Waterloo Station, she adds colour to London life, gathering her family for a picture, after being interrogated by a journalist on the reason why she, and so many others, leave the West Indies to live in cold, foggy London.
She does not have a definite answer to that question, and neither does any of the other characters, but as they walk the streets of London, they fill them with new life, and shape their surroundings as much as they are themselves shaped by the big city. Many, many communities within the big city are growing at this time in history, and they form their own cultures, quite distinct from one another:
“London is a place like that. It divide up in little worlds, and you stay in the world you belong to and you don’t know anything about what happening in the other ones except what you read in the papers.”
At the same time, all Londoners, new and old, share the famous streets, meeting places and corners that are well-known all around the world. Galahad, one of the characters, is happiest when he has a date at a spot that makes him feel that he belongs to a bigger context, and he loves life when he can say, with dignity, that he is meeting someone at Piccadilly or Charing Cross, repeating the words for effect. Then he belongs, whether he is welcome or not.
A charmingly positive short novel on a time when London was changing fast into a global city, a declaration of love for the city despite the shortcomings of its inhabitants. Recommended!
Read information about the authorSamuel Dickson Selvon aka Sam Selvon was born in San Fernando in the south of Trinidad. His parents were East Indian: his father was a first-generation Christian immigrant from Madras and his mother's father was Scottish.He was educated there at Naparima College, San Fernando, before leaving at the age of fifteen to work. He was a wireless operator with the Royal Naval Reserve from 1940 to 1945. Thereafter, he moved north to Port of Spain, and from 1945 to 1950, worked for the Trinidad Guardian as a reporter and for a time on its literary page. In this period, he began writing stories and descriptive pieces, mostly under a variety of pseudonyms such as Michael Wentworth, Esses, Ack-Ack, and Big Buffer. Selvon moved to London, England, in the 1950s, and then in the late 1970s to Alberta, Canada, where he lived until his death from a heart attack on 16 April 1994 on a return trip to Trinidad.
Selvon married twice: in 1947 to Draupadi Persaud, with whom he had one daughter, and in 1963 to Althea Daroux, with whom he had two sons and one daughter.
Selvon is known for novels such as The Lonely Londoners (1956) and Moses Ascending (1975). His novel A Brighter Sun (1952), detailing the construction of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in Trinidad through the eyes of young Indian worker Tiger, was a popular choice on the CXC English Literature syllabus for many years. Other notable works include Ways of Sunlight (1957), Turn Again Tiger (1958) and Those Who Eat the Cascadura (1972). During the 1970s and early 1980s, Selvon converted several of his novels and stories into radio scripts, broadcast by the BBC, which were collected in Eldorado West One (Peepal Tree Press, 1988) and Highway in the Sun (Peepal Tree Press, 1991).
After moving to Canada, Selvon found a job teaching creative writing as a visiting professor at the University of Victoria. When that job ended, he took a job as a janitor at the University of Calgary in Alberta for a few months, before becoming writer-in-residence there. He was largely ignored by the Canadian literary establishment, with his works receiving no reviews during his residency.
The Lonely Londoners, as with most of his later work, focuses on the immigration of West Indians to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, and tells, mostly in anecdotal form, the daily experience of settlers from the Africa and the Caribbean. Selvon also illustrates the panoply of different "cities" that are lived in London, as with any major city, due to class and racial boundaries. In many ways, his books are the precursors to works such as Some Kind of Black by Diran Adebayo, White Teeth by Zadie Smith and The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi. Selvon explained: "When I wrote the novel that became The Lonely Londoners, I tried to recapture a certain quality in West Indian everyday life. I had in store a number of wonderful anecdotes and could put them into focus, but I had difficulty starting the novel in straight English. The people I wanted to describe were entertaining people indeed, but I could not really move. At that stage, I had written the narrative in English and most of the dialogues in dialect. Then I started both narrative and dialogue in dialect and the novel just shot along."
Selvon's papers are now at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin, USA. These consist of holograph manuscripts, typescripts, book proofs, manuscript notebooks, and correspondence. Drafts for six of his eleven novels are present, along with supporting correspondence and items relating to his career.
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