After ten years living abroad, Tarquin Hall wanted to return to his native London. Lured by his nostalgia for a leafy suburban childhood spent in south-west London, he returned with his Indian-born, American fiance in tow. But, priced out of the housing market, they found themselves living not in a townhouse, oozing Victorian charm, but in a squalid attic above a Bangladeshi sweatshop on London’s Brick Lane. A grimy skylight provided the only window on their new world: a filthy, noisy street where drug dealers and prostitutes peddled their wares and tramps urinated on the pavements. At night, traffic lights lit up the ceiling and police sirens wailed into the early hours.
Yet, as Hall got to know Brick Lane, he discovered beneath its unlovely surface an inner world where immigrants and asylum seekers struggle to better themselves and dream of escape. Salaam Brick Lane is a journey of discovery by an outsider in his own native city. It offers an explicit glimpse of the underbelly of London’s most infamous quarter, the real-life world of Monica Ali’s bestselling novel.
‘Charming, brilliant, affectionate and quietly impassioned … it manages to be balanced, humane and life-affirming.’ – Kevin Rushby, GUARDIAN
‘Tarquin Hall is right at the heart of what he writes about . . . Hall’s new friends spring brilliantly to life off the page . . . it’s hard to imagine a more moving or more telling record of lives on the edge.’ – Caroline Gascoigne, SUNDAY TIMES
‘Forthright and funny.’ – DAILY TELEGRAPH
‘I was absolutely riveted. It’s funny, enlightening and very moving. . . I’m recommending it to all my friends just because it’s such a good read.’ – Kate Fox, author of Watching the English
‘(Hall) has a fine ear for the myriad speech patterns of the East End’s varied inhabitants.’ – DAILY MAIL
‘Entertaining. . . Hall cannily plays the bewildered public schoolboy to a range of different characters. . . allows us to hear the wonderful patter of the East Enders.’ – TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
‘A thought-provoking read. . .fascinating insights into fractured lives. And Hall’s affectionate portrayals of eccentric acquaintances enhance this touching portrait no end.’ – METRO
‘Tender and harrowing.’ – THE TIMES
‘(Hall) brings a sharp eye and a dry humour to his descriptions.’ – Anthony Sattin, SUNDAY TIMES