Samuel Selvon (front cover and text): © By permission of the Estate of Sam Selvon. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.
Photograph of Samuel Selvon by Robin Adler: © Robin Adler. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.
Published in 1956, The Lonely Londoners is Samuel Selvon’s third novel. Narrated in creolized English, the novel depicts the daily experiences of Moses Alloeta and his friends, migrants from Africa and the Caribbean. Although the novel is renowned for its humour, Moses’ anecdotal narrative shrewdly portrays the class and racial boundaries that the group faces as they strive to establish themselves in London.
Born in Trinidad and of East Indian descent, Selvon migrated to London in 1950 where he continued to write journalism, poetry and short stories. His first novel, A Brighter Sun, was published in 1952.
The Lonely Londoners is regarded as the first – and definitive – novel to represent the Black migrant experience in England (and, more specifically, in London). As such, it is a precursor to novels such as The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi and White Teeth by Zadie Smith.