Pigeon English

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Pigeon English
Pigeon English (Kelman novel).jpg
Author Stephen Kelman
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Published 2011 (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 288
ISBN 978-1408815687

Pigeon English is the debut novel by English author Stephen Kelman. It is told from the point of view of Harrison Opoku, an eleven-year-old Ghanaian immigrant living on a tough London estate. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011.


The novel begins with the death of a young boy on the fictional Dell Farm estate in an unspecified area of London. Harri Opoku, a recent Ghanaian immigrant living with his mother and sister, becomes an amateur detective and tries to solve the murder. His experiences also illustrate the problems of gang warfare, immigration to the United Kingdom and poverty. As well as investigating the murder with his best friend, Dean, Harri shares with the reader his thoughts, impressions and experiences of growing up in an environment beset with pressures and threats. The novel explores his attempts to remain good despite the corrupting forces around him.


It was first published in March 2011 by Bloomsbury in the United Kingdom.


The novel was critically acclaimed on publication [1] and was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize.[2] It went on to be shortlisted for ten awards, including the Guardian First Book Award, Desmond Elliott Prize, and Galaxy National Book Award. The book became a bestseller, and has featured in a national campaign launched by the National Literacy Trust and the Booker Prize Foundation to encourage prisoners to read.[3] It is also widely studied in schools and universities.

Stage Adaptation[edit]

The novel is being adapted into a play by Fringe First winner Gbolahan Obisesan. The play is a co-commission between Bristol Old Vic Young Company and National Youth Theatre, and is directed by Miranda Cromwell.[4] The play will perform at the Bristol Old Vic and 2013 Edinburgh Festival.[5]