Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Small Island by Andrea Levy

Another magnificent piece of literature using war as a backdrop. Andrea Levy tells the story of prejudice, hardships, circumstance and passion.  The story is narrated from the perspective of four different characters. The way in which the voice of narration is shifted as well as the time space, draws in the reader drawn as individual stories unfold. Furthermore, Levy writes uses direct speech and local dialects, interemingling Jamaican style with Cockney style. This gives each character a uniqueness and personalisation which in turn make them come alive as people jumping off the page, rather than two-dimensional characters.

Skillfully written, the narration is not in any way judgemental or demeaning and the themes of racism and cultutral differences are tackled delicately. Levy uses juxtaposition creatively, both in showing attitudes between the English and Jamaicans as well as writing of different situations. There is force in the writing, creating tension for the reader. In addition to this, the use of pathetic fallacy is powerful and exemplary.

Funny yet tragic, an absolute must-read.

The BBC adaptation by John Alexander is excellent. Beautifully adapted and superbly acted, it is loyal to the novel and manages to retain the warmth of the story.

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