Thursday, May 26, 2011

Top ten outsiders' stories

Stephen Kelman grew up in the housing projects of Luton. He's worked variously as a careworker, a warehouse operative, and in marketing and local government administration.

Pigeon English, his first novel, will be available in the U.S. in July.
[T]he outsider [Kelman writes]... is an endlessly fascinating creature: he can be a benign commentator on his adoptive society, or a harsh critic; he can be the underdog or the agitator; his fish-out-of-water status can lend itself equally to comedy and tragedy. The entire spectrum of human experience can be captured within his detached or awed gaze. For both reader and writer, the outsider is an instrument that allows us to see the world in an unfamiliar way, and that for me is one of the prime aspirations of literature.
One of Kelman's top ten outsiders' books, as told to the Guardian:
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Balram Halwai, the narrator of this spry jaunt through modern India, is an economic migrant lured to the big city in search of the wealth his country's embrace of capitalism has promised him. He finds that the material world is a corrupting place. A look at how aspirations, even at their most prosaic, can untether us from our moral selves, and how the globalised world has made us all outsiders in one form or another.
Read about the other titles on the list.

The White Tiger is one of The Freakonomics guys' six best books.

The Page 69 Test: The White Tiger.

Also see: Neil Griffiths's top 10 books about outsiders.

--Marshal Zeringue