Salaam Brick Lane : A Year in the New East End, Paperback

Salaam Brick Lane : A Year in the New East End Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288 pages, one map
  • Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Travel writing
  • ISBN: 9780719565564



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Hall puts it clearly: "It's ben my experience living in a number of big cities that it is easy to miss what's right under your nose. . .you turn a corner and suddenly come across something new and unexpected." And this after living for a year in the east end of London as a struggling White Public School Londoner who returns from India. He sees the east end anew and with a clearer eye than most of the posh or the poor on England. Not only does he record what he sees but he provides a history of the area that gives the book much more depth than a first hand account. If you have lived in London or visited many times, this book provides a mature insight into an area few enter without trepidation.

Review by

After spending ten years abroad as an international journalist, Tarquin Hall returned to his native London. He discovered that the only place he could afford to live was the East End, a place with a long and colorful history. It is known as the section of London that houses the poor, that is run by petty criminals, and in the past few decades has become to many new immigrants to the U.K, particularly from the Indian subcontinent. Living in the East End gave Hall insight into the various pressures faced by the neighborhood and its residents. The most significant of these are racism, poverty, and disillusionment. Racism runs rampant, not just among white Londoners, but among immigrants who have arrived years earlier. Hall learns about the harrowing pasts of his asylum-seeking neighbors. They have lived through violence and warfare, and find themselves facing anger and disgust in London. The book also discusses Hall's personal life. He is trying to convince his fiancee to move from Delhi to London, and Brick Lane is not making the project any easier. The culture shock of London strains their relationship. For those interested in London, this is an interesting and worthwhile read.

Review by

Surely a good insight in London's real life of real people, but somehow did not work for me.