Accra Book Club and Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English

During April 2012 the Accra Book Club read, met and discussed Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman. I recommended that we read this book as it had a Ghana connection (perhaps the main reason) and also because it made the UK Booker prize shortlist in 2011, with several good reviews.

Interestingly none of us were really thrilled or highly enthusiastic about this book. Some admitted to not liking child narrators, and felt that Harrison Opoku did not behave in a “realistic” way for an eleven year old, even if he had just come to the UK.

There were also questions about the so-called pidgin English expressions which Harri uses; none of us had heard any of them despite having lived in Ghana for many years. Maybe because of our own Ghana experience somehow aspects of the emigrant/immigrant experience didn’t seem to ring true.

Personally I did wonder where Kelman got the Ghana background from – again, aspects of which grated a bit. We also felt that many of the characters seemed to be stereotypes.

And of course there was the omnipresent pigeon – a pigeon!?

However, this was a first novel, so I suppose one could give the author a bit of slack.

I wonder whether anyone else has read it, and felt this less than complete enthusiasm?


3 thoughts on “Accra Book Club and Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English

  1. Pingback: March and April 2012 book related activities | Accra books and things

  2. I didn’t love this one either, especially because of the pigeon part. A speaking pigeon… no thanks! And so glad to hear your impression on the Ghanain background and speech from because I couldn’t speak to it, but wasn’t sure how accurate it really was or if he’d done his proper research.

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