In 1956, British Caribbean author Samual Selvon wrote and published the novel The Lonely Londoners, a novel that chronicled the lives of West Indian immigrants in post-World War II London. London, at the time, was becoming a place where the divides between English and West Indian culture became more and more prominent. Caribbean people began establishing their own separate culture on their own terms as both the English and West Indians avoided integration. Racism was a common occurrence in post-World War II London.
Upon reading The Lonely Londoners, the first thing that one might notice about the novel is its narrative voice. Perhaps what distinguishes this immigration story from many others is Selvon’s usage of the protagonist’s “creolized” form of English. The narration provides another dimension to how the story is read and emphasizes the realism of these immigrants’ hardships in a very segregated city. Lastly, as the novel follows the lives of these “lonely Londoners,” Selvon addresses themes such as social mobility, isolation, and interracial intimacy.
Samuel Selvon (1923-1994) was born in Trinidad and was of East Indian descent. Most of his later work focuses on the immigration of West Indians to Britain after the conclusion of World War II. His other works include Moses Ascending (1975), Foreday Morning (1989) and The Housing Lark (1965).
Post submitted by: Crystal Maranan