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Review: The Lonely Londoners

February 16, 2010

Publisher: Penguin/2006

(originally published by Alan Wingate/1956)

Paperback: 139 pages


A novella about a group of immigrants from the West Indies, where we follow characters like Henry “Sir Galahad” Oliver, Cap and Moses Aloetta. The Lonely Londoners is an account of life, love & survival in “the great city of London, centre of the world.” (p.134)


The Lonely Londoners is written in the style of a Creole language. This brings, perhaps, a level of realism but it does tend to drag you out of the story. I think most readers would not be used to the structuring of sentences, and the eye tends to stutter, rather than glide over the prose. An inconsequential problem, you may think, but something that takes you out of the world a story is showing you is not a good thing.

The Lonely Londoners isn’t a great book, an important one maybe but great it is not. It’s all rather aimless, structurally it resembles more a vignettes than a full-blown story. That might have been Selvon’s idea but I never get to know these characters, yes, they have anecdotes but who are they? What makes them tick?

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it but once finished you’re left to ponder what the point was, what did I get out of this? I’m sure it has its fans, and I can see why it would be classed as an important book.


An enjoyable but slight read, don’t be expecting to be blown away by it but probably worth a read.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 24, 2011 10:26 pm

    when other nationalities write using their local dialect, is it viewed in the same way as this book is? Hardly think so. . .the more things change is the more they remain the same.

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