In a community where poverty is kept close and passed from one generation to the next, two teenage boys, best friends, stand on top of twin tower blocks. Facing each other across the abyss of London's urban sprawl, they say their good-byes and jump. One dies. The other, alternating with the sister of the deceased, narrates this novel.
James gives us a window into the inner city -- his mom is a crack addict, his gang "brothers" force him to kill another black boy. Meina describes with feeling her family history in Somalia: after her parents are killed before her eyes, her village aunt sells her to six husbands -- before she is even a teenager. Desperate to rebuild their lives, James and Meina set out to find the place for which every child longs -- home.
Brutal and shockingly violent in places, rambunctious and lively in others and slyly, dryly witty in yet others, Meina and James's journey toward life through their past is ultimately a powerful story of redemptive love and the debut of an extraordinary literary talent.
Peter Akinti: Forest Gate
Reading Group Guide
Set in the slums of contemporary London, Forest Gate chronicles the lives of the dual narrators—James and Armeina—in the wake of a double suicide attempt which James survives but Ashvin, Armeina’s brother, does not. Through the heart-wrenchingly human voices of Armeina and James, we learn about the extraordinarily sad family history of both narrators. Armeina, called Meina, was forced to flee Somalia with her brother Ashvin after the two witnessed the brutal murder of their intellectual parents by Ethiopian soldiers. Meina and Ashvin, with the help of their white benefactor Mr. Bloom, move to the ‘estates’ of London where they meet James, the youngest of six warlord and drug dealing brothers and the son of a crack-addicted mother. James and Meina are brought together by the tragedy of Ashvin’s death and James’ survival and fall in love in the shadow of their shared sorrow. Poignant and breathtaking, tragic and captivating, Forest Gate takes the reade see more