Saturday, September 09, 2006
What I'm Reading -- Londonstani by Gautam Malkani
I was extremely tempted to bail on Gautam Malkani’s debut novel, Londonstani. This is novel about four Indian teenagers living in London and raising hell. The slang and colloquiums are so heavy that it was jarring to read until I got used to the style. A snippet from page 9:
--U hear wot ma bredren Jas b chattin? Hardjit says, welcoming my input. – If you b getting lippy wid me u b getting yo’self mashed up.
Oh yeah, there are also no apostrophes to distinguish dialog. Once you get used to this shorthand style of writing the book really takes off. Jas is kind of a nerd, but he is living a new life after being accepted by three schoolmates, who are some small-time gangsters. Things get serious for the group when their business with illegal cell phones turns into a bigger job. Also, Jas, who now has a bit of cash to throw around, is making moves on a Muslim girl, which has his whole community turning against him. Things, of course, in the end go wrong for the whole crew. Racial tensions and traditions are a big part of this book. Malkani does a good job being serious and funny at the same time. This is a harsh, but good coming of age story.