Tag Archives: Stephen Kelman

Book Review: Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman.

Pigeon English is based around the lives of the most inaccurate year-sevens I have ever heard of; with inaccurate and improperly used language and terminology to match.
Despite the serious themes of the book, there is not much to talk about in concern to it, as not much happens.

Never have I known a child in year seven of school to be like Harrison (the main character), or most of the kids in this book. They are either based on another generation of kids, well before the current, or the author has done poor research on the subject of kids. Or perhaps he wrote the characters however he wanted them to be, and did it poorly, ignoring modern children’s habits and ignoring any related information.

The language is not only purposefully wrong in places in a failed attempt to create humor, other parts of it are plain irritating. Terms like “Quick quick,” and “Dope-fine,” are unnatural for even a kid of that age to say, and unnatural writing is never good writing.
The writing and language are also extremely repetitive. It seemed I was often reading some of the same sentences over and over again.

I would say the story moves along slowly, but there is not much story to move along with. While there is a mystery that lasts the course of the book, it seems more like a background plot and is there to give the book some substance, however minimal. You are mostly reading about the day-to-day life of the main character.
There are a few stand-out things happening throughout the book, but again, these are all subplots, side stories, or filler.

As I have said, the majority of characters are unrealistic and annoying to read. They are all also similar in almost every way. Clearly, not much thought has gone into them. And, while they may be kids and have a lot of growing to do, the characters are rather undeveloped and lack any defining traits. There is also little-t0-no character development.
A few characters are a little more accurate and are bearable to read. The older ones, mostly. But again, the characters are simple and do not develop throughout the story.

The contrast of such dark and serious themes with the innocent mindedness of a child is a noteworthy point. The center story revolves around this.
Murder, abuse, child violence, deportation, and all manner of dark events lie within this book. Of course, while an adult sees the world for a more real place, a child is often interested, excited even, about such events, wanting to be involved in some way. At least, according to Pigeon Engish. Alas, it is interesting to see the children play through the events like they know what they are doing and what they are talking about.
The same goes for racism and sexism. This book shows that such things are put into people’s heads as children, but the children do not know what they are doing is bad until told otherwise.

This book calls to an adult demographic, one who enjoys classic literature, even though this book is not a classic.

2.7/5.0


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