Londonstani - the book that should never be filmed
When I first started to read this book, I can't say that it was a subject that truly fascinated me but a good friend had recommended it so I decided to give it a go. Wow.
It's the story of a bunch of Hindu and Sikh teenagers in a suburban area of London. I know, it's not the most cheery of subjects, and not a subject I thought would fascinate me. In no time though, I was interested; I wanted to read on.
The teenagers in the book are typical of second-generation Indian and Pakistani Londoners. Their parents, original immigrants, retain their own ways from their own country, but the children have been brought up in the UK and are neither one thing or quite the other.
They have been brought up with their parents' values when they were younger but then school friends and other 'outsiders' become an equal, if not greater, influence.
London is a multi-cultural city and has been for hundreds of years and as such, there is nothing unusual about the group of teenagers in the book, although their means of support is, shall we say, not exactly one hundred percent legal. This too is not unusual.
The four main characters - Jas, Ravi, Hardjit and Amit - speak in a way that you might find hard to understand when you first start reading the book but you'll soon get the hang of it. There is a glossary if you find it difficult but learning the local slang is an interesting part of this book in its own right.
And oh, by the way, remember that we are talking about Londoners in their late teens so if a drop of profanity offends you, then this isn't the book for you.
So, I was reading the book, enjoying it and, I must admit, enjoying the challenge of understanding some of the slang words and then BOOM.
I remember exactly where I was. I was alone in the house, sitting on the sofa and wow.
The simple words that I read made me drop the book onto the floor."No," I was saying to myself "No, that can't be".
No, that can't be right. I've misread it.
But I hadn't.
A book has never surprised me in that way before. And the wonderful thing is that once you've read it, you want other people to read it without knowing what they are in for.
When himself got home, I insisted that he started reading it right away. I think it was the following day that he got to the 'no, it can't be' stage. He was as astonished as I was. (Though less vocal, being a bloke).
Dear filmmakers - don't even try.
I'll agree that some books have been made into good films but rarely are they as good as the book. Nine times out of ten,I'm disappointed in them.
Oh,and another thing. When you order this book, don't be tempted to read any reviews. Several of them contain spoilers.
I really want you to appreciate this book in the way the author intended.
Three more books with the wow factor
If you're like me,and enjoy books that make you say 'wow' then these are three of my favorites.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I think is my very favorite book, is a joy throughout but has one of those 'wow' endings.
Behind the Scenes at the Museum is completely different in almost every way apart from the fact that when you get to the denouement you kick yourself for not realizing what the book was really about.
Like Water for Chocolate is one for the girlie side of me but the wow factor is right there.
Another exceptional read
Like Water for Chocolate
This book is rather different to the ones mentioned above but it definitely has the wow factor. This book is set in Mexico at the time of the revolution and is a little more girlie than than the ones you see above.
Hear the author speak about this book. He also reads from the book that is pretty blatant so I'm issuing a profanity alert (as you'd expect from Britain).
Learn about the author's own background as a part of the Asian community in London too.
The author explains how the young men are essentially 'middle-class' but emulate the ghetto. He explains that authenticity is a great part of the book. I agree - just wait for that 'wow' moment.
Another fascinating video from the author
© 2013 Jackie Jackson