Postcolonial Fictions of Adoption

in Critical Survey
Author:
John McLeod University of Leeds j.m.mcleod@leeds.ac.uk

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More than any other novel of the last fifty years, Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners (1956) has emerged as the talismanic literary account of the consequences of postwar migration to Britain. These consequences are well known: Selvon's novel engages with the growing racism of London; the challenge of his characters – Moses, Galahad and others – to find work, accommodation and sustenance (both emotional and material); the defiant attempt to resist prejudice and establish a new, vibrant and cosmopolitan London culture. Yet perhaps the least discussed issue in the novel is Galahad's fatherhood; early in the novel, and only once, a reference is made to the fact that, eight-and-a-half-months after Galahad's arrival, a young woman can be spied pushing a pram through Ladbroke Grove that contains his son. The appearance of this enigmatic child - quickly forgotten by his father, Selvon's novel and its critics - exposes the disruptive and transformative effect on the family by the historical phenomenon of postwar migration.

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