Well-written without mawkish pieties. (Saga Magazine)
'Charming, brilliant, affectionate and quietly impassioned . . . he lets the stories speak for themselves . . . [He has a] deft way with dialogue . . . a wonderful book . . . balanced, humane and life-affirming. I hope it sells out faster than cases of Chalky's "Coat de Roen"' (Kevin Rushby, 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)
Fascinating and funny (Canterbury, Herne Bay, Whitstable & Faversham Focu)
What started out as a series of entertaining character sketches turns into an instructive investigation of "Englishness" . . . While Hall does not sidestep the problems raised by immigration, his forthright and funny book is a timely reminder of the revitalising effect "foreigners" have had on the mongrel race that proudly describes itself as "the English". (Peter Parker, Daily Telegraph)
I was absolutely riveted. It's funny, enlightening and very moving - but moving in a quiet, understated, English way, without any mawkish sentimentality. It has given me lots of new insights into the complexities and nuances of 'acculturation', and I'm recommending it to all my friends just because it's such a good read. (Kate Fox, author of Watching the English
Powerful (Kent Messenger)
He has a fine ear for the myriad speech patterns of the East End's varied inhabitants . . . pertinent and unusually insightful views on the whole "illegal immigrant" issue . . . gripping (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)
In this entertaining account of a year living on Brick Lane in London's East End, Hall cannily plays the bewildered public schoolboy to a range of different characters. (Times Literary Supplement)
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)
'He fleshes out figures that are usually little more than symbols for political viewpoints, and the result is a Dickensian tale of the modern underclass that serves as an answer to negative immigration issues' (Guardian)
'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)
'Hall has produced an inclusive, insider's portrait of Brick Lane...rich and humane enough to hold its own' - Laurence Phelan (Independent on Sunday)
'Just like a Dickens novel, Salaam Brick Lane features comic characters, tear-jerking melodrama, plenty of roguery and an overarching romantic plot in which a plucky young couple overcome familial disapproval' - John Dugdale (Guardian)
'This is an involving and rather heartening book full of carefully observed characters...Tarquin...is superb on multiculturalism' - Phil Baker (The Sunday Times)
'A unique take on the tales of asylum seekers, Bangladeshi families fearing a loss of culture and a search for the real East Enders who, it turns out ironically, are simply immigrants from years gone by.' (Derby Evening Telegraph, Simon Burch)
'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)
After ten years living abroad, Tarquin Hall wanted to return to his native London. Lured by his nostalgia for a leafy suburb childhood spent in south-west London, he returned with his Indian-born, American fianc?e in tow.
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. He met the last of the East End Jews who, in their lifetimes, have watched their community slowly vanish, and he befriended some of the tens of thousands of Bangladeshis and asylum seekers who have replaced them.
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.