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Pigeon English

Pigeon English [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Kelman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
Kindle Price: £1.54 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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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; 1 edition (7 Mar 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004LB4FAA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,858 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Teenagers' Book 8 Mar 2012
By Lisa
I must admit I approached this book with a certain amount of trepidation and I was right. I think the story is certainly worth telling and the reviewer who was shocked by the language and sexual references has entirely missed the point. It is supposed to reflect real life, a real life that thankfuly not all of us have experienced but real life nonetheless and in that real life people do speak like that whether anyone likes it or not. My issue is with the way the book is written, some reviewers have likened it to The Curious Incident and I can see why but I thought the language (real though it probably is) was difficult to enjoy and the constant statements of who was speaking (as if we couldn't work that out) was very tiresome. All in all I think it is much more suited to a teenage market although the subject matter is gritty and unpleasant I don't think it would shock many of today's teenagers. I am very surprised that it was short listed for the Booker and I think it was more to do with the gimmicks applied than the merit of the writing. Having said all that, it's not a bad book, just not my sort of thing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very sad.
Original voice. Very sad.
Published 8 days ago by M E Carlton
4.0 out of 5 stars sad and lovely at the same time
Thought provoking, sad and lovely at the same time.
Published 3 months ago by Tina Bynoe
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky but emotional .
I had high hopes for this book - and for most part, it did not disappoint.
it is a lovely fictional telling of a true tragedy through a child's eyes.
Published 4 months ago by S. Gardiner
5.0 out of 5 stars good story sad ending
The book started off in a very good fashion it had lots of detail and was easy to understand. It carried on like that till the end and that is where it changes mood drastically
Published 4 months ago by Fred
4.0 out of 5 stars ... you a real sense of what it may feel like to grow up on a rough...
Gives you a real sense of what it may feel like to grow up on a rough estate and the influences on your life. Really interesting and thought provoking read.
Published 4 months ago by E. Cameron
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great story told from a young boy's perspective. Kelman captures a child's perspective so well that we feel that we're travelling together with our young protagonist.
Published 4 months ago by Nanook of the North
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good book
Published 5 months ago by Debbie
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Loved it
Published 5 months ago by RK
4.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive and touching portrayal
A sensitive and touching portrayal of a young boy's struggle
Published 5 months ago by cookbookcollector
2.0 out of 5 stars Pigeon English Review
Not sure about this book. There is something compelling which made me continue to read however I am not going to recommend it in a hurry. It is a sad book but feels very real. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amanda Eames
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