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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Malkani's &*^%$# Londonstani

Gautam Malkani's much-hyped Londonstani is an expletive-laden look at British Asian teenagers and their lives of conspicuous consumption. Zoe Paxton reads it out to a mixed class of teenagers in Hounslow with mixed results:

"The consensus from the teenagers was that these words are 'real' and this is how Hounslow teenagers speak. Some were at pains to point out that they didn’t use such expressions themselves (although their brothers and cousins did), and some said that even those who do talk like this don’t do it all the time (not in front of their mothers, presumably) but that, overall, Malkani had it spot-on."


"...there was also a feeling that it was strange to see the words in print. 'He has got everything right,' one girl said. 'But it’s too exaggerated and you would never, ever, write these words down.' It seems that fixing the dialect in a book — capturing something by its very nature so fluid and elusive — is almost perverse to them. This is hinted at in the novel when Jas, the narrator, explains gang branding thus: 'People are always trying to stick a label on our scene. That’s the problem with havin a fuckin’ scene. First we was rudeboys, then we be Indian niggas, then rajamuffins, then raggastanis, Britasians, fuckin’ Indobrits. These days we try an’ use our own word for homeboy an so we just call ourselves desis.' "


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