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Small Island    by Andrea Levy Amazon.com order for
Small Island
by Andrea Levy
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Picador, 2005 (2005)
Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Written during and after the Second World War, this novel depicts war-torn London from the point of view of Jamaican immigrants. How they found shelter among city dwellers who had lost everything in bombing attacks, and how they managed to find work and keep warm turns out to be less important than how they were able to assert themselves as human beings amid the prejudice they encountered.

Levy understands prejudice very well and shows us the difference between the American and British sense of superiority, and fear in dealing with race and otherness. As always, those who cannot be bothered with such differences stand out: 'You know what your trouble is, man? ... Your white skin. You think it makes you better than me. You think it give you the right to lord it over a black man. But you know what it make you? You wan' know what your white skin make you, man? It make you white. That is all, man. White. No better, no worse than me just white.'

The lives of four lonely people intersect in war-torn London and prove to us all that we can move beyond the world we have come to expect, provided that we remember the humanity we owe to others.

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