Tag Archives: London

Monica Ali, Brick Lane (2004)

Brick Lane

A row of police vans covered the mouth of Brick Lane. Behind them a legion of policemen stood with arms folded and feet turned out. A length of tangerine-and-white-striped tape stuck the sides of the street together.

“Let me through,” said Nazneen.

“The street is closed, madam. Go back.” The policeman sounded friendly but decisive. He seemed to think the conversation was finished.

“I have to go to Shalimar Café and find my daughter.”

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Monica Ali, Brick Lane (2004)

Brick Lane

She began to spend time at the window, as she had in those first few months in London, when it was still possible to look out across the dead grass and concrete and see nothing but jade-green fields, unable to imagine that the years would rub them away. Now she saw only the flats, piles of people loaded one on top of the other, a vast dump of people rotting away under a mean strip of sky, too small to reflect all those souls. She lowered the net curtain and watched the groups of boys who drove endlessly around the estate, even on the parts where cars were not supposed to go. There were faces she did not recognize. They got out of their cars and approached other cars. They carried an air of violence with them, like a sort of breeding, good or bad, without ever displaying it.

—Monica Ali, Brick Lane. Reading: Transworld Publishers, 2004, p.364.

Brian Chikwava, Harare North (2009)

Harare North

In the sky one big mama cloud is gathering all its children around sheself. I look at she and she look at me with she big face. My feeties, they take off again. Out of the park. The air hold still, something shift but I am still among the living and I breeze through them Brixton streets like the winds as darkness fall down like dust on Harare North. I can walk. I can’t smile. I get hungry. My feeties is vex, my stomach is crying and I am walking into them mental backstreets; I want Marks & Spencer’s food.

To the left of Marks & Spencer’s bins, some distressed cry for help rip through unlit air. I turn my head to look: there is brain-jangling argument exploding between two people. Continue reading

Selma Dabbagh, Out of it (2011)


London was quiet to Imam. The traffic, planes and people worked along allocated channels. They moved along the grooves cut out for them. It was not a world shaken down and cut through night after night. The noise was conformist and the talk and expressions appeared to operate on one level only. People behaved in ways that seemed unconnected to others. Their actions had repercussions only for themselves. There was an enviable ability to relinquish involvement in the bigger picture, to believe that it was all under control, that somebody with your interests in mind was looking out for you.

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