The setting: London in the 1960s.
The players: A group of West Indian immigrants. There's Battersby and his sister, Jean, from Trinidad, and their friends, Nobby, Alfy, Fitz, Sylvester and Gallows. And then there's Harry Banjo, a calypso singer from Jamaica and Battersby's new roommate, who is the first to suggest they pool their money together to buy their very own house.
The dream: "Yes, yes, is time to get serious," Bat say. "Now listen. I ain't want to make no big speeches. Everybody know what hell it is to get a place to live, and the idea is to start saving up some money, and we put it together and buy a house."
The problem: "Ain't we going to buy a house?"
"That is only a lark," Jean say, "you think them fellars really serious? I know Battersby, he is my own brother, and I could tell you that up to now he ain't give me a ha'penny he save up. If I was you I think twice about that scheme."
The author: Of East Indian descent, Sam Selvon was born in Trinidad in 1923. He came to public attention during the 1950s with a number of other Caribbean writers. The Housing Lark was published in 1965.
My reaction: I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this novel, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. Selvon does an excellent job of portraying life in London for these West Indian immigrants, and the unfair prejudices they face. But he also doesn't flinch from showing each character's flaws and weaknesses; and he does it all with a lyrical lilt to his prose that calls to mind the Caribbean islands. It's not a long novel, only 125 pages, and every page is a delight. Selvon is a new-to-me author, and one I would definitely read again. This book also counts as my Classic by a BIPOC author for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge.