Friday, July 06, 2007


This is a brilliant, brilliant book, written by Gautam Malkani, a journalist on the Financial Times. Kind of 'Trainspotting' in West London Indian, written in that vernacular, where a 'desi' is a real Indian (culturally), as opposed to a 'coconut' (black on the outside) - that's when it does not use SMS-speak.

It's about young Jas, aged 19 or so, who was a rather bookish bloke before he fell in with a crowd of 'rudeboys' - these are West London Indian heavies, big into bodybuilding, and not shy to commit the odd minor crime or two (in this case reprogramming stolen mobile phones). It has been hard for him to get into this crowd because of his bookishness, and because it's still quite hard to him to follow their train of thought (quite apart from his stammer...), so he does not say much in the group. But because he sometimes thinks before he acts he is useful for deflating tensions.

The group get caught trying to nick their former teacher's mobile phone, and he offers them a way out which does not involve the police. However, there are serious consequences....

The descriptions are wonderful, especially those of Jas' thought processes, as are the insights into the lives of Indian families, their relationships, the need for respect to be shown at different times. The relationships between different auntijys and their sons and relatives are beautifully described, and the book is incredibly funny. It takes some getting used to the language (as it would do getting used to Scots) but it's well worth doing so.