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Selvon, Samuel

novels migrants

(Trinidadian, 1923–94)

Samuel Selvon is a master story-teller and the one most associated with the Caribbean folk tradition. He emigrated to Britain in 1950 and to Canada around 1980. His 1957 collection of stories, Ways of Sunlight, contains not just nostalgia but his classic ‘hymn to London’, ‘My Girl and the City’. Of his eleven novels, those set in London have had the widest appeal. The Lonely Londoners (1956), narrated in what is now called ‘nation language’, shows how migrants to England in the 1950s coped with the alien conditions—humour and guile usually saw them through. In The Housing Lark (1965), though, these migrants are subject to rackrenting landlords. The lesson—to club together (or strike it lucky) and buy a house—informs a couple of other Selvon novels.

V. S. Naipaul. See BLACK & WHITE, CARIBBEAN  EM

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