‘Full of love, wisdom and yearning’ Kit de WaalA coming-of-age story set in Birmingham in the 1980s and 1990s, The Go-Between opens a window into a closed migrant community living in a red-light district on the wrong side of the tracks. The adult world is seen through Osman’s eyes as a child: his own devout migrant Muslim patriarchal community, with its divide between the world of men and women, living cheek-by-jowl with parallel migrant communities. Alternative masculinities compete with strict gender roles, and female erasure and honour-based violence are committed, even as empowering female friendships prevail.
The stories Osman tells, some fantastical and humorous, others melancholy and even harrowing, take us from the Birmingham of Osman’s childhood to the banks of the river Kabul and the river Indus, and, eventually, to the London of his teenage years. Osman weaves in and out of these worlds, struggling with the dual burdens of racism and community expectations, as he is forced to realise it is no longer possible to exist in the spaces in between.
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