Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman; A Cupboard Full of Coats by Yvette Edwards; All That I Am by Anna Funder; Landfall by Helen Gordon; Open City by Teju Cole - review by Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes on Five First Novels

  • Stephen Kelman, 
  • Yvette Edwards, 
  • Anna Funder, 
  • Helen Gordon, 
  • Teju Cole

This year’s longlist for the Man Booker prize is an unusually intriguing one. Alongside commendations for such established writers as Alan Hollinghurst and Julian Barnes is a surprisingly healthy amount of what publishers might designate as ‘genre fiction’ (D J Taylor’s Derby Day; A D Miller’s Snowdrops) as well as an encouraging number of first novels.

Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English (Bloomsbury 288pp £12.99) is one such debut. Its hero is Harrison Opoku, an eleven-year-old Ghanaian boy who lives on an inner-city housing estate with his mother and sister. At the beginning of the story Harrison, with the aid of a pair of plastic binoculars

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