Monday, June 11, 2007

andrea levy

London, 1948, a time when landlords were allowed to deter undesirable tenants by putting up a sign that read, “No Irish, no coloureds, no dogs”. Small Island traces this first wave of Caribbean immigrants coming to Britain after World War II. This conflict (especially racism and xenophobia—what could be more pertinent today!) is what Andrea Levy tackles with incredible precision through her sympathetic characters. (The stories are told from each character's perspective, moving backward and forward in time). Her own parents being Jamaican, Levy´s narration focuses on the difficulties these immigrants faced going to Britain, and their frustration, since, in their own eyes, they weren’t immigrants at all but rightful claimants to the land that they had been brought up to believe was their welcoming Mother Country.

Extract from Andrea Levy's Small Island:
It brought it all back to me. Celia Langley. Celia Langley standing in front of me, her hands on her hips and her head in a cloud. And she is saying: 'Oh, Hortense, when I am older' (all her dreaming began with 'when I am older'). "When I am older, Hortense, I will be leaving Jamaica and I will be going to live in England." This is when her voice became high-class and her nose pointed into the air - well, as far as her round flat nose could - and she swayed as she brought the picture to her mind's eye. "Hortense, in England I will have a big house with a bell at the front door and I will ring the bell." And she make the sound, ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling. "I will ring the bell in this house when I am in England. That is what will happen to me when I am older."

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