Book review: Mo Said She Was Quirky, By James Kelman
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 19 July 2013
In his first London-set novel, and first with a heroine at its heart, Kelman comes up trumps.
Glaswegian single mother Helen works nights in a West End casino - both a metaphor for winner-takes-all metropolitan life and keenly observed real workplace.
She gambles on happiness with a Muslim boyfriend, "ordinary Londoner" Mo. Although past pain and present danger lurk, Kelman brings gentle humour and profound compassion to his tale of getting by in an unjust time and place, where "if the cards turned that way it was like bust, you were".
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