Pigeon English

by Stephen Kelman

Debut Books of the Month eBooks of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Pigeon English

April 2012 Guest Editor Paul Torday on Pigeon English...

I loved this novel of an innocent Ghanaian child who comes with his mother to England and then gets caught up in the gang life of a suburban wilderness somewhere in south London.  What I most admire about the book is the way the author gets across the voice of the child narrator. The tension between the young boy’s innocence and the gang language he learns to speak without really understanding the awful bleakness of gang culture, make this a very moving and convincing read.


Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011.

Shortlisted for the Galaxy New Writer of the Year Award 2011.

Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2011.

Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2011.

A story of innocence and experience, hope and harsh reality, Pigeon English is a spellbinding portrayal of a boy balancing on the edge of manhood and of the forces around him that try to shape the way he falls.  It's also deeply funny, moving, idiosyncratic and unforgettable and introduces a major new literary talent.


Sarah Broadhurst

Pigeon English Synopsis

Eleven-year-old Harrison Opoku, the second best runner in Year 7, races through his new life in England with his personalised trainers - the Adidas stripes drawn on with marker pen - blissfully unaware of the very real threat around him. Newly-arrived from Ghana with his mother and older sister Lydia, Harri absorbs the many strange elements of city life, from the bewildering array of Haribo sweets, to the frightening, fascinating gang of older boys from his school. But his life is changed forever when one of his friends is murdered. As the victim's nearly new football boots hang in tribute on railings behind fluorescent tape and a police appeal draws only silence, Harri decides to act, unwittingly endangering the fragile web his mother has spun around her family to keep them safe.

Pigeon English Press Reviews

'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

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408866597
Publication date: 05/01/2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408810637
Publication date: 07/03/2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408866597
Publication date: 5th January 2012
Author: Stephen Kelman
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 272 pages
Genres: Debuts of the Month, eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,
Categories: General fiction (Children's / Teenage), Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Stephen Kelman

Stephen Kelman was born in Luton in 1976. After finishing his degree he worked variously as a warehouse operative, a careworker, and in marketing and local government administration. He decided to pursue his writing seriously in 2005, and has completed several feature screenplays since then. Pigeon English is his first novel.   Author photo © Jonathan Ring

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