The Crash of Civilizations in your own backyard
Paul Southern lives on the Asian side of the tracks in Manchester, England. His girlfriend is a Pakistani Muslim. According to the Times, “He is often abused, and has been attacked several times. In particular, he dare not risk being seen with his Pakistani Muslim girlfriend whose family knows nothing of their relationship.” His first novel, The Craze, is set in this racially mixed community and explores the cultural misunderstandings and misgivings on both sides of the racial divide. His second novel Brown Boys in Chocolate closely observes the religious hypocrisy of the Asian community. His books document the intolerance of communities and exposes their private, unspoken habits. This is guaranteed not to make him friends.
Reading about Paul Southern makes me contrast with live in Thailand where foreigners marry Thai woman and these couples have little difficulty in being accepted. It is remarkable that in England a writer lives a double-life with the woman of his life, sneaking around parents and others, afraid of being beaten or killed.
One amazon reviewer said of The Craze,, “What a stunning debut. From the first sentence the reader is gripped, and drawn into the sleazy, violent, nasty underworld which belies the much promoted, highly camouflaged public perception of Manchester.”
As for Paul Southern’s latest novel, Brown Boys in Chocolate an amazon reviewer wrote:
“There's no PC pulling of punches - this is hard-hitting, unflinching, controversial stuff about multiculturalism gone badly wrong, clearly supported by meticulous research. But as well as the gritty, unapologetic realism, Paul Southern's books are also splendidly deranged.”
From the sound of these two novels, I am adding them to my reading list.