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Stephen Kelman Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Stephen Kelman is a general fiction English author. He was raised in a Marsh Farm estate in Luton and attended the University of Bedfordshire, where he majored in marketing. Kelman then worked several jobs such as a caseworker, a warehouse operative, in local government administration as well as in the marketing field.

Kelman always wanted to be a writer from a young age but became a professional writer in 2005 and completed several feature screenplays. His debut novel, Pigeon English, won the Man Booker Prize in 2011. The book was inspired by the killing of a 10-year-old Nigerian boy Damilola Taylor in London- one of the United Kingdom’s high-profile killings. The book also won the Desmond Elliot Prize making Kelman the 2011 writer of the year. Kelman’s 2015 novel is a fictional biography of an Indian journalist named Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak with several Limca and Guinness Books of Records. The book focuses on male folly, human dignity, loss and rebirth, and transformation and has appeared in 28 countries. Stephen Kelman is a resident of St. Albans, where he lives with his Uzma.

Stephen Kelman’s debut book Pigeon English is a book that can be read by adult readers and is also ideal for mature kids from the ages of 10 and above despite the adult themes presented. Doing so may categorize Kelman’s books in the same class with the works of famous authors such as Judy Blume. However, there are lessons to be learned in the end.

Knife fights might seem like an old-fashioned way of settling gang squabbles, but they are more common than you may think. For example, in Britain, knife violence is an ever-present threat that has taken the lives of many people. For instance, according to Statista, there were more than 11,000 police-recorded knife offences in London in the year 2021-2022. One of the older homicide cases that still resonate in Britain is Damilola Taylor’s case, a 10-year-old immigrant from Nigeria who bled to death after being stabbed by two 12-year-old boys. It is against this backdrop of one of the United Kingdom’s high-profile killings that Stephen Kelman set his book, Pigeon English, a novel that is both charming and chilling.
The book opens up with the occupants of an apartment building reacting to the killing of one of their residents, a famous athletic teen boy who was murdered for no solid reason. Harrison Opoku, popularly known as Harri, an 11-year-old Ghanaian immigrant, vows to help solve the murder. With the help of his best friend, Dean, the two become a force to be reckoned with. He secretly interviews suspects, gathers fingerprints on cello tape as evidence and spies on the local gangs such as the Dell Farm Crew.

Even though the subject is extracted from the headlines, Pigeon English is a rather coming-of-age story that feels heartbreakingly accurate. At the story’s starting point, Harri s just an innocent boy who enjoys spending time catching subway rides. But during the course of his investigation, he maneuvers through the slippery passage between teenage and adult, paving his way through peer pressure, packs, learning to take a stand, and getting some kisses along the way regardless of the dangers these activities put him through.

It can be truly hard to pen a story from the perspective of a child without sweetening, but Kelman captures his main character brilliantly through the use of gentle humor. The author has a keen sense of the sanctified laws of the schoolyard, some of which appear in Harri’s endless list. Some of the laughs are traumatic, but Harri’s naivete masks them. Harri never understands the true seriousness of his aunt’s burned-off fingertips or the danger posed by his aunt’s boyfriend, who brandishes a baseball bat he nicknamed the Persuader.

The author’s liveliness stretches to his language use, the most evident one being in the book’s title. A pigeon has never had such different meanings: it is present in the pidgin the main character speaks, using Ghanaian-English words such as “hutious” for scary and “asweh” for I swear. Similarly, the pigeon’s place in the urban food chain can be compared to Harri’s family and other marginalized people like him. Literary, the pigeon serves as a silent mentor to Harri and some of the chapters in the book are narrated from the pigeon’s point of view, giving the reader a better understanding of the phrase “bird-brained.”

Stephen Kelman’s second book, Man on Fire, published in 2015, is a touching, powerful and unforgettable story about faith, understanding and second chances. We are introduced to John Lock, who relocates to India to meet his destiny. He fled his boring life in England after wasting decades in a meaningless career, a marriage collapsing after loss and a dark secret that he cannot afford to share with his wife.

John has come to India to offer his assistance to a man who has mastered the art of conquering pain, a man who holds world records in deeds of extreme tolerance and ill-advised enjoyment of receiving humiliation and pain. Bibhuti Nayak’s upcoming world record attempt is to have 50 baseball bats smashed and broken over his body, an attempt that will seal the career that has pulled him out of poverty to become a celebrity in a country were becoming famous requires persistence, bravery and a touch of madness. In heeding Bibhuti’s call for help, John wishes to craft a brave end to the chaps poorly lived life.

But as the two take a leap of faith together, John soon becomes a member of Bibhuti’s family and is welcomed to the chaos of Mumbai, where he crosses paths with a brave seven-year-old martial arts warrior, ping-pong playing monks and an old man wishing for the ocean winds to wash him away. He soon learns that there’s more to life and learns more about death and everything in between life and death than he could ever have bargained for. Even though the event in the Man on Fire are purely a product of Stephen Kelman’s imagination, the fictional story of Bibhuti’s can be said to be that of Bibhuti Bhushan Nayak’s own life. Overall, Kelman has woven a heart-warming story that deeply examines life’s difficulties without sugarcoating and from which friendship and love shine.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Stephen Kelman

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