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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.

Reviews

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 <i>Watching the English</i>
He has a fine ear for the myriad speech patterns of the East End's varied inhabitants.
Daily Mail
A remarkable cross-section of British society . . . Hall's sympathetic, anecdotal approach is a fine counter to the appalling racism of much current tabloid journalism . . . This is a fine and eloquent book.
What's On UK
This is a beautifully written book about a world we ignore except when it makes tabloid headlines.
American
Entertaining . . . Hall cannily plays the bewildered public schoolboy to a range of different characters . . . allows us to hear the wonderful patter of the East Enders
Times Literary Supplement
Fascinating and funny
Sunday Times
'Entertaining'
Bookseller
Such a light, playful book and yet with a compelling tow which takes you into the myriad realities of life in the East End of London.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
'A thought-provoking read . . . fascinating insights into fractured lives. And Hall's affectionate portrayals of eccentric acquaintances enhance this touching portrait no end'
Metro
'Tender and harrowing'
The Times
'He brings a sharp eye and a dry humour to his descriptions'
Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times
'A gem of a book that reveals a hidden world lying right on our doorstep. As the stories unfold, so does our appreciation for Tarquin Hall's acute eye and for the gentle power of his narrative'
Saira Shah, writer and broadcaster
'Salaam Brick Lane is a compelling journey of discovery by an outsider in his own city and offers an explicit glimpse of this quarter of London'
Traveller