A gritty, hilarious and often touching memoir of a year spent living in the immigrant melting pot of London's East End.
After ten years living abroad, Tarquin Hall wanted to return to his native London. Lured by his nostalgia for a leafy suburban childhood spent in south-west London, he returned with his Indian-born, American fiance in tow. But, priced out of the housing market, they found themselves living not in a townhouse, oozing Victorian charm, but in a squalid attic above a Bangladeshi sweatshop on London's Brick Lane. A grimy skylight provided the only window on their new world: a filthy, noisy street where drug dealers and prostitutes peddled their wares and tramps urinated on the pavements. At night, traffic lights lit up the ceiling and police sirens wailed into the early hours.
Yet, as Hall got to know Brick Lane, he discovered beneath its unlovely surface an inner world where immigrants and asylum seekers struggle to better themselves and dream of escape. Salaam Brick Lane is a journey of discovery by an outsider in his own native city. It offers an explicit glimpse of the underbelly of London's most infamous quarter, the real-life world of Monica Ali's bestselling novel.
Well-written without mawkish pieties. - Saga Magazine
'Charming, brilliant, affectionate and quietly impassioned ... it manages to be balanced, humane and life-affirming. I hope it sells out faster than cases of Chalky's "Coat de Roen"'. - Guardian
Tarquin Hall is right at the heart of what he writes about . . . Hall's new friends spring brilliantly to life off the page . . . it's hard to imagine a more moving or more telling record of lives on the edge - Caroline Gascoigne, Sunday Times
Amused and amusing, this is a refreshing addition to the accounts being offered of the area. - Stratford Recorder
Forthright and funny - Daily Telegraph
Fascinating and funny - Canterbury, Herne Bay, Whitstable & Faversham Focu
Powerful - Kent Messenger
I was absolutely riveted. It's funny, enlightening and very moving . . . I'm recommending it to all my friends just because it's such a good read. - Kate Fox, author of Watching the English
Tarquin Hall became an under-age journalist at nineteen and spent the next ten years working in Africa, America, Asia and the Middle East. He is the author of Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits, an account of his early adventures and To the Elephant Graveyard: A True Story of the Hunt for a Man-killing Elephant, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. He is married to the BBC World Service presenter Anu Anand. They live in East London.