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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Inauthentic Rudeboys

One has rarely been able to complete books written in dialect or some form of patois -- be it Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang or James Kelman's How Late It Was How Late. Which is why one picked up Gautam Malkani's Londonstani with more than a little trepidation. However, one is already halfway though the book and, so far, enjoying it tremendously. Yes, some of the techniques are a bit obvious, but it does possess a great energy that's compelling. And there clearly are similarities to the first half of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. One hasn't finished it yet, so final judgement is reserved (you can read an interesting review here), but meanwhile, here's an interesting comment by the author defending the book against charges of inauthenticity:

"Everyone in the book is a middle class boy pretending to be street. Many of the characters in the book are intentionally unauthentic - they're two-dimensional screens onto which their 'selves' are projected by Bollywood, Hollywood, MTV Base and ads for designer fashion brands. I think people have seen the dialect, not quite got it, and thought well it's a tale about hard men from the ghetto. Well, it's not."


  • What Malkani says in that quote is interesting. I think too many reviewers have just taken the protagonists’ behaviour at face value. In actual fact there’s a lot of posturing in everything they do, and some of it is quite self-aware (though again in an affected sort of way).

    By Blogger Jabberwock, at 5:30 PM  

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