Friday, June 1

Book: Londonstani, Gautam Malkani Click for more info

Apparently, writing the end of a book or film is one of the hardest things to do in the creative process. I guess it's something about flow or living up to expectation and having to end any enjoyable experience is always going to be a bit difficult.

Take Londonstani. With one of the most irrelevant and abrupt endings I've ever read, it's the only thing on my mind as I type this here review. This is a shame, since I'm sure there was much more to talk about, especially as I was making my way through the rest of the book. But maybe I should just start at the top anyway.

The book follows the life of Jas, an A-Level retake student living in Hounslow. He's a rudeboy (or at least trying to be one), and will be immediately familiar to those who grew up in the East or West of London. At first, the book is nothing more than a series of anecdotes and experiences of the typical British Born Asian gang member.

It then progresses to a more deeper arc. I say deeper, but it's not really. There are only a handful of very obvious characters and very few are brought to life. Characterisation is achieved with humour ("that's so true!") but more effectively by style; Malkani used a pretty risky trick of writing dialogue with the literal spellings and grammar of the people speaking. We're talking text language and slang here. It was a bit difficult to read at times, but on the whole it worked pretty well.

In some places, Jas describes some pretty complex social theory and opinion; these fall outside of the main narrative, and I can't help but feel the book being used as a kind of channel for the author's own thoughts. Although not completely relevant they kept the book interesting for me anyway.

And then we come to the end. To be frank, the less said about it the better. It struggles to close properly and, furthermore, whacks on one of the most irrelevant and tedious plot twists I've come across. Considering how much I enjoyed the rest of the book I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed and cheated.

An interesting book at best then. I can't totally recommend it, but I don't think you'd be wasting your time reading Londonstani either. As a possible throwback to your own school and college experiences it works pretty well, but as a book on its own it falls pretty far short.

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