Guy Gunaratne’s In Our Mad and Furious City

“All that’s left now is to listen.”  And “listen” you must to this beautifully poetic and original novel.  In and around the Estate (think the projects), it is hot summer, and London simmers.  A “soldier boy” is killed.  Protests block streets.  Skinheads.  Young  Muslim enforcers.   “Britain first.” The mosque burns.  Riots.  Okay, current, topical, in the news, right?  Important, too, and ugly, right?    Oh, certainly, but it is the language and the individual voices telling this story that make all the difference here, all the difference.

The young men here are black, Pakistani, Muslim, Irish; they are street and cynical; and they all speak the same language.   A rich, rich broth that is both slang and dialect, sometimes verging on patois, and it made my heart sing – again and again.   There is the lilting voice of a gentleman from the Caribbean islands remembering the violence of the Teddy boys against black immigrants.    A hard, single mom from Dublin is another with a reminder of religious-based violence in Ireland.   The human spirit, the will, is in the voice.  So, listen, please.

Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Farrar, Straus and Giroux / MCD x FSG Originals via NetGalley. I would like to thank the publisher and the author for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

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