A book I always recommend to anyone interested in London in particular and the experience of arriving in a new city in general is Sam Selvon's novel The Lonely Londoners. It follows the interconnected lives of a series of West Indians who relocated to London in the 1950s. I initially picked it up because my grandfather arrived in London at around that time. He was actually from Nigeria, not the West Indies, but still, this was the Britain he, as a black man arriving from Empire, would have needed to get to grips with. In the end, beyond my own personal reasons for reading it, I realised it was one of the best novels about London of any kind. Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the truth, and Selvon's world-weary but kind characters have insights that ring so true, even today. Right now for example I am randomly opening the book and I see the following sentence: 'Newspaper and radio rule this country'. Plus ça change!
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