Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lunar Module


First published in 2004 and re-released in paperback this year to cash in on the renewed interest in East-meets-West narratives, Sorrows of the Moon is Iqbal Ahmed's first book, a non-fiction account of his 'discovery' of London.

The bulk of the book comprises stories of down-at-heel immigrants in London, be they from the Indian subcontinent or Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, Ahmed gets no points for his prose style: his metronomically unvarying sentences are wearisome in large doses, and his paragraphing, too, can be erratic. Get over this faux-naif approach, and there's much to move you here, such as the stories of Anwar in his Brick Lane workshop, Kasim in his Charing Cross kiosk or the depressed, jilted Isabel.

It must be pointed out, however, that at other times, Ahmed can be quite one-sided, such as in his portrayals of the irascible Gujarati postmistress or the drivers of London's Black Cabs.

The tales are shot through with Ahmed's personal impressions of London, his wide-eyed awe and more than occasional disappointment at the people, sights and sounds, as one living in London after a boyhood in Srinagar.

Worth your while? Only if you happen to have a specific interest in the subject; otherwise, check out Sukhdev Sandhu's compendium, London Calling, for other immigrant tales.

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