Londonstani Review

The latest issue of The Nation includes a very thoughtful review by Gary Younge of Gautam Malkani’s Londonstani. Here, he addresses the much-talked about use of the ‘street vernacular’ in the novel:

At times this mix is playfully subversive–one character is told to “wake up, smell the masala tea”; Jas tells us Desi fathers will “drop you like a hot samosa.” But it can be jarring, too. Like Forest Whitaker fumbling to maintain his English accent for the duration of The Crying Game, Malkani puts unlikely middle-class words into the narrative voice of the supposedly streetwise Jas:

Regarding it as some kind a civic duty to educate others in this basic social etiquette, he continued kickin the white kid in the face, each kick carefully planted so he din’t get blood on his Nike Air Force Ones (the pair he’d bought even before Nelly released a track bout what wikid trainers they were).

It’s unclear how someone who thinks in terms of “civic duty” and “basic social etiquette” can move so easily to Nelly’s “wikid” sneakers; still, Malkani’s overall portrait of a hybridity of races, religions, ethnicities and globalized reference points is a welcome reflection of the everyday life of London’s youth.

You can read more here.

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