The Lonely Londoners

The Lonely Londoners

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The Lonely Londoners

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The Lonely Londoners is a 1956 novel by British Caribbean author Samuel Selvon. Its publication marked the first literary work focusing on poor, working class blacks in the beat writer tradition following the enactment of the British Nationality Act 1948.


The book details the life of West Indians in post-World War II London, a city the immigrants consider the "centre of the world." Samuel Selvon: The Lonely Londoners, p.134 Covering a period of roughly three years, it has no plot in the usual sense of the term. Rather, the novel follows a limited number of characters of the "Windrush generation", all of them "coloureds", through their daily lives in the capital. The various threads of action form a whole through the unifying central character of Trinidadian Moses Aloetta, a veteran emigré who, after more than ten years in London, has still not achieved anything of note and whose homesickness increases as he gets older. Every Sunday morning "the boys", many a recent arrival among them, come together in his rented room to trade stories and inquire after those whom they have not seen for a while. Not surprisingly, their lives mainly consist of work (or looking for a job) and various petty pleasures. Dating young white women is at the top of the list, as is hanging around prostitutes (street prostitution was not illegal in London until 1959).

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A recurring theme in Selvon's character...
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