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Small Island

by Andrea Levy

A thought provoking book. Time to feel ashamed of the way in which West Indians who fought in the British army in World War II were treated back in the UK before the Race Relations Act! I became totallly absorbed in the lives of the characters. A worthy prize winner.

Extract

'Is this the way the English live?' How many times she ask me that question? I lose count. 'This the way the English live?' That question became a mournful lament, sighed on each and every thing she see. 'Is this the way the English live?'

'Yes: I tell her, 'this is the way the English live ... there has been a war ... many English live worse than this.'

She drift to the window, look quizzical upon the scene, rub her gloved hand on the pane of glass, examine it before saying once more, 'This the way the English live?'

Soon the honourable man inside me was shaking my ribs and thumping my breast, wanting to know, 'Gilbert, what in God's name have you done? You no realise, man? Cha, you married to this woman!'

Queenie was still standing by the open door when I dared fetch the trunk that Hortense had sailed across an ocean. 'Everything all right, Gilbert?'

'Yes, thank you,' I tell her.
'What did you say her name was?'
'Hortense.'
'Funny name.'
'What, funnier than Queenie?'

She gave a little laugh although I had not made a joke. 'You'll have to move that trunk. I need to shut the door. Someone will be away with it if you're not careful.'

'If they can lift it, it's theirs,' I muttered, before adding, 'I moving it now, Queenie.'

Parallels

Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah
 

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