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Small Island by Andrea Levy
Small Island is set in 1948 when the first wave of Caribbean immigrants come to Britain after World War II. With this group is Gilbert Joseph, a Jamaican who volunteered in the Royal Air Force during the war and suffered its racism then. He's come in search of better opportunities and has brought his new bride, Hortense, a prissy young woman expecting a life of privilege. They rent a room in Queenie Bligh's boarding house, irritating her neighbors with her "colored" tenants. Queenie's husband, Bernard, disappeared during the war and now returns disillusioned and demoralized. Andrea Levy tells their stories from each character's perspective, moving backward and forward in time, as each is forced to come to grips with the reality of their situation in a world that has changed beyond their expectations. Small Island has won several major literary prizes and has received high praise. The Guardian says, "Small Island is a great read, delivering the sort of pleasure which has been the traditional stock-in-trade of a long line of English novelists. It's honest, skilful, thoughtful and important."
Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Book of the Year Winner of the 2004 Orange Prize for fiction Winner of the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize