Man Booker Prize Finalist: A “winning and ingenious” novel about an eleven-year-old immigrant boy trying to solve a murder (The Plain Dealer).
Lying in front of Harrison Opoku is a body. It is the body of one of his classmates, a boy known for his incredible basketball skills, who seems to have been murdered for his dinner.
Armed with a pair of camouflage binoculars and techniques absorbed from television shows like CSI, Harri and his best friend, Dean, plot to bring the perpetrator to justice. They gather evidence—fingerprints lifted with tape, a wallet stained with blood—and lay traps to flush out the killer. But nothing can prepare them for what happens when a criminal feels you closing in.
Recently emigrated from Ghana with his sister and mother to South London’s enormous housing projects, Harri is obsessed with gummy candy, friendly to the pigeon who visits his balcony, is quite possibly the fastest runner in his school, and is clearly also fast on the trail of a murderer. “[A] work of deep sympathy and imagination,” Pigeon English is a tale of friendship and adventure, as Harri finds wonder, mystery, and danger in his new, ever-expanding world (The Boston Globe).
“Pigeon English is a book to fall in love with: a funny book, a true book, a shattering book. . . . If you loved Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or Emma Donoghue’s Man Booker–shortlisted Room, you’ll love this book too.” —The Times (London)
“Convincingly evokes life on the edge . . . The humour, the resilience, the sheer ebullience of its narrator—a hero for our times—should ensure the book becomes, deservedly, a classic.” —The Mail on Sunday
“Continually surprising and endearing . . . There’s a sweetness here that’s irresistible.” —The Washington Post
“Funny and poignant . . . What might be described as Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Trainspotting.” —Toronto Star
“Since Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, there have been certain rules observed when children play detective. Stephen Kelman throws them all out . . . The mystery is secondary to the pleasures of listening to Harri.” —The Christian Science Monitor
Kelman's debut novel is a well-tuned if simplistic portrait of a kid's life in the housing projects of London. After 11-year-old Harri, whose family has immigrated from Ghana, sees a classmate lying dead on the sidewalk one night, Harri and his buddy, Dean Griffin, set out to solve the murder, looking for the murder weapon, interviewing suspects, and gathering evidence. But the strength of this novel is not its murder mystery; rather, it's in hearing all Harri's thoughts as he falls in love, talks to his baby sister, or expresses himself in his own idiosyncratic language. The street-talk slang that Harri uses boring things take "donkey hours" and Nike Air trainers are "bo-styles" is crisp and mirthful, the perfect match to his at once na ve and revealing views on things like religion and race. The main flaw is also a feature: Harri's a very well-drawn 11-year-old, and no matter how cute he and his worldview are, it's sometimes tempting to want to pat him on the head and send him along his way.