Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Salaam Brick Lane

Just finished reading Tarquin Hall's Salaam Brick Lane, an account of his real-life experiences living in Banglatown for a few years with his Indian girlfriend (now wife and BBC journalist). If you live in the West and you commute, its the perfect book: well observed and a joy to read. Hall has a keen ear for dialogue, whether it is his leather-jacket shop owning slumlord, his Albanian friends or the fading cockney characters in the pubs of Bethnal Green Road.

Best of all, its a song in praise of the centuries-old mongrel multiculturalism of England, writ small via the continuously varying experiment in hybridity also known as Brick Lane (from Huguenot weavers to Jewish exiles to the Sylhetic Bengalis of today). We English have always been hybrid (and rarely ethnically 'pure') - we've always imported our monarchs, raided other people's languages and stole all our culinary ideas from foreigners (even fish and chips ain't English, innit?). Never one for truly original ideas, we are highly adept at 'borrowing' and adapting those of others. Even as a vegan, I have to say: long live the chicken tikka masala!


Kush 12:22 am  

Bros Jeremy you dey write oh! Chineke. Anyway how do you survive as a vegan in Nigeria? Are there many opportunities for eating out?

Anonymous,  6:00 pm  

Ever read Zadie Smith?

deola,  3:23 am  

just read this too...it is wonderfully researched, and a great read. highly recommend this!

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