Forest Gate: Book summary and reviews of Forest Gate by Peter Akinti

Forest Gate

A Novel

by Peter Akinti

Forest Gate by Peter Akinti
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2010
    224 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Akinti’s raw and riveting debut...captures in gracious and resonant prose the fear, anger, and sadness of life in the violent and poverty-stricken slums of London’s East End." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. [A] novel of striking power and relevance. An important book—fierce, passionate; for readers who seek out stories of life on the bleeding edge" - Library Journal

"A disturbing debut...the only disappointment here is his plotting, ragged and increasingly implausible. Sometimes sketchy and preachy, nevertheless notably passionate and gritty. " - Kirkus Reviews

"A very bleak picture indeed, and very well told." - The Guardian (UK)

"This is a hard, painful novel. ... There are times when the prose is too flatly declarative ... But, mostly, James's gradual, fragile redemption ... is very well conveyed. Peter Akinti is also good at conveying a sense of place: the urban sprawl of east London comes to life here, as does war-torn Somalia and, unexpectedly, the contrasting tranquility of Cornwall." - The Independent

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Peter Akinti was a seventies child, born of Nigerian ancestry, in London. He read Law at a London University. He has written for the Guardian, and worked for four years at HM Treasury Chambers before founding and editing Untold Magazine for five years. Untold was the first independent British magazine for black men and had a wealth of gifted contributors from all over the diaspora. Peter spent eighteen months in Nigeria, running a restaurant, beer parlour and cinema in Ondo Town, Southwest Nigeria. He currently lives in Brooklyn.  Forest Gate is his first novel.

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