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Pigeon English

Pigeon English [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Kelman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Product Description


The humour, the resilience, the sheer ebullience of its narrator - a hero for our times - should ensure the book becomes, deservedly, a classic (Daily Mail )

This is a book which needs to be read and discussed in years 10 and above (School Librarian )

Pigeon English would be on the curriculum. This is an extraordinary book. Everyone should read it (Interview With Kate Humble, 'what She Would Change About The World If She Was Queen' Stylist )


'Simultaneously accurate and fantastical, this boy's love letter to the world made me laugh and tremble all the way through. Pigeon English is a triumph' Emma Donoghue, author of Room 'Pigeon English is a book to fall in love with: a funny book, a true book, a shattering book' Erica Wagner, The Times 'Stephen Kelman's [first novel] has a powerful story, a pacy plot and engaging characters. It paints a vivid portrait with honesty, sympathy and wit, of a much neglected milieu, and it addresses urgent social questions. It is horrifying, tender and funny ... Brilliant' Daily Telegraph 'The humour, the resilience, the sheer ebullience of its narrator - a hero for our times - should ensure the book becomes, deservedly, a classic' Daily Mail

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 485 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408826143
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (7 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004LB4FAA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #16,880 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 103 people found the following review helpful
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
There is an underlying issue with `reviewing' a novel like `Pigeon English' and daring to critique it. It almost makes you wonder should you dare to because the subject matter is a delicate one, in the main it seems that Stephen Kelman took the story of school boy Damiloa Taylor's death and wrote a fictional response about/to it. `Pigeon English is told by eleven year old Harrison Opuku, a young man who is also an immigrant from Ghana now living on one of the tower block council estates in London. This is an area of street gangs, poverty and violence; in fact the novel opens with the death of a school boy who Harrison sort of knew.

Writing in a child's narrative has become something of trend in modern contemporary writing, long before `Room' we had `What Was Lost' (and indeed the theme of child detective comes up in this book as Harrison and his best friend decide to hunt the killer), it is also a hard act to balance when on a tough subject. Can you hold the reader's belief? Does the narrative ring true? Does the simplicity of the voice dilute the events that are happening? Sadly, for me at least, whilst I loved Harrison's view on life, which often made me laugh out loud, it took away the impact of the novel. When you are spending time in the company of this lively witty young man you are also left missing a lot. I never felt I got to know any of the other characters deeply, the other school kids like X-Fire (pronounced Cross Fire) or Killa became almost like cartoon caricatures, his sister and mother has no real back story other than one being the matriarch and the other a bit of a pain. I also felt like there was a whole back story in Ghana I simply didn't know enough about.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique narrator, a tender and frightening tale 27 Feb 2011
I was given this at work to review for the childrens' website. It was an interesting tale - Harri, an eleven year old boy from Ghana is settling into his new life in the UK. He lives with his mother and slightly older sister. He is the second fastest runner in year 7, he draws the stripes on his 'Adidas' trainers, he is fascinated with the Dell Farm Crew and he is friends with Dean.

When a boy is murdered on his estate, Harri and Dean start to investigate. They collect prints, observe people around their estate and search for the murder weapon. In a world where they don't trust the police, Harri's investigation starts to reach his sister, his friends, the notorious Dell Farm Crew who terrorise his estate and school, and even Harri himself.

This is a gritty and funny book which deals with serious issues. Harri's voice is unique - abrupt, discriminate and innocent all at once. My only gripe is the paragraphs written from a pigeon's perspective which just didn't work for me, but overall, a great read and I would much recommend.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A peak into an all too common world in Britain 9 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Harrison is a little boy from Ghana who has come to London with his mother and sister for a better life and finds himself living in a tower block on a rough estate. A boy has been stabbed to death and, with his friend, Harrison decides to investigate.
Through Harrison's eyes we explore the estate and the people who live there. He is surrounded by some truly horrible people and describes them in a way that is unencumbered by social prejudice. The language used has elements of childlike words combined with familiar adult phrases used in slightly incorrect context. Combined with the slang of Ghana, the language is fascinating and is a large part of making the book so interesting.
The plot is not a key element in the book, it is more about social commentary.
The innocent child's view of British society is quite bleak and this is well explored - eg "In England nobody helps you when you fall over, they can't tell if you're serious or if it's just a trick."
Beautifully touching!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt praise and appreciation 2 Jan 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
What a beautiful beautiful story and how well the author manages to take the reader inside the head and heart of this young boy. I certainly came away from it feeling that I had a better understanding of how things are for such people and their circumstances. It's the first time in years that I have sat and read a book from cover to cover, I just couldn't stop turning the pages. Thank you Mr.Kelman
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking ! 8 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Although the story centres around the murder of a young boy outside a chicken takeaway shop, it is really Harri's observations of this strange place that he has come to live in. He finds the language strange - lots of words mean the same thing. If something is 'gay' then it means it is stupid, and why are there so many ways of saying that you are going to the toilet? Harri is a typical eleven-year old; fascinated and curious, daring and innocent. He decides that he must solve the murder case and soon he is out with binoculars, interviewing suspects and trying to get some fingerprints.
There is an air of menace about the story, Harri and his friends are growing up in a violent environment - they play 'suicide bombers' at school, they 'chook' each other with compasses. Harri however, doesn't seem to understand just how threatening a situation he is getting himself.
Harri is an endearing, quite authentic character and Kelman has captured the innocence and curiosity of a small boy very well. It's a fascinating look at the world of inner-city gangs with characters who appear real.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable
I found this book boring and predictable!!! I was given this by a friend and definitely won't pass it on...
Published 25 days ago by Aftiti
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a pleasant story
I found it hard going but felt sorry for the little lad who was trying to fit in having moved to England from Africa.
Published 1 month ago by Jooleah
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read.
The title says it all. The language does not make this book an easy read. Once you get into it the story is excellent if, very dark. Read more
Published 2 months ago by andy
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book
Great book, easy to read, very insightful. I felt that I totally understood the character. I would highly recommend this book.
Published 2 months ago by Queenie
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent
A fascinating insight into a different world to my own. Told by a young black boy with a big heart and a fundamental goodness despite the area and rough upbringing. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
What an interesting book. It took a while to get used to the vernacular but well worth while. Kept me enthrralled right up to the end
Published 2 months ago by sodan
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
The best book I read all year. Refreshing to have a book about inner city kids that isn't totally negative.
Published 3 months ago by Fred Nyberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Good REad
Purchased for my daughter as part of her English GCSE - this book was recommended by her teacher - she enjoyed it
Published 4 months ago by Mrs J Trezise
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of our times
I'm not sure what drew me to this book in the library, I think it might have been the bright red and yellow cover, but it was an absolute gem of a find. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stephen Down
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read
A friend lent me this book saying she wasn't sure if she liked it but thought that I might like it. Hardly a recommendation! Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nicola J. Dean
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