lonely londoners The Lonely Londoners by Samuel Selvon. New York. 1956. St Martin's Press. 171 pages. Author photograph by Robin Adler.




   There is a new type in the streets of London. His clothes stand out baroque and garish in the subfusc London scene, his voice is calypso-like, his smile is disarming, and his skin is black. He is, in fact, one of the vast and growing army of West Indian immigrants who have invaded the larger cities and whose calypso tunes and infectious gaiety mask the serious problems of a precarious existence. This is a book about these people by one of them, written in the very idiom in which they speak and think. Though the author writes it as a novel, we doubt if any of its characters is really fictitious. Here you may see through the eyes of the narrator, Moses, such flamboyant individuals as Five Past Twelve, Captain, the amorous young Sir Galahad and a host of others, toiling, 'Liming', gossiping and love-making. We follow them to their Saturday-night socials, their jive sessions and rendezvous on the park benches, see them crouching under blankets for warmth in winter and airing themselves voluptuously in the summer sunshine of mean streets. Samuel Selvon is a young Trinidadian whose first novel A BRIGHTER SUN was given such generous critical appreciation on both sides of the Atlantic. Carl Carmer wrote, 'Not since I read Porgy have I been so impressed by a work that concerns itself with the nobilities of primitive peoples striving to overcome limitations placed upon them by poverty and discrimination. ' Under the laughter and the lilting rhythms of Trinidadian speech, THE LONELY LONDONERS has the same compassion which made his earlier work so memorable.



Selvon Samuel SAMUEL SELVON was born in Trinidad of Indian parents. He went to school and college on the Island, and during the war served for five years as a telegraphist in a mine-sweeper. After the war, he worked on The Trinidad Guardian, and began to write short stories in his spare time, several of which were accepted by the B. B. C. Encouraged by this success, he came to England, bringing with him the manuscript of a novel called A BRIGHTER SUN, which was published by Wingates in 1952 and by Viking in the United States. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his second novel, AN ISLAND IS A WORLD. THE LONELY LONDONERS is his third novel and the second to be published in America.



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