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At the Hop

Sukhdev Sandhu, 20 February 1997

Black England: Life before Emancipation 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 244 pp., £19.99, October 1995, 0 7195 5251 6
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Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain 1780-1830 
by Norma Myers.
Cass, 162 pp., £27.50, July 1996, 0 7146 4576 1
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... The ten thousand blacks in London in the 18th century had a visibility and presence completely out of proportion to their numbers. They featured in the prints of Hogarth, Cruikshank and Gillray; their heads were pictured on countless tradesmen’s cards; they appeared in advertisements (‘Ah Massa, if I am continued in your service, dat will be ample reward for Scipio bring good news to you of Packwood’s new invention that will move tings with a touch’) and they themselves were advertised: ‘To be SOLD ...

Aliens and Others

Sukhdev Sandhu: The Desolation of Manhattan, 4 October 2001

... At first I’m sure it’s going to be a great day. Sun out. Bright blue skies. The end of summer. Even the sirens and engines that have been wailing outside my apartment window for the last hour don’t seem that unusual. Just, I assume, part of the hysteric clangour taken for granted by those who live in Manhattan. Only when I step out onto First Avenue to head downtown do things begin to seem strange ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... Elderly Jamaicans, still trim, their trousers shiny-kneed but meticulously creased, smile spryly and recount with courtesy their memories of treading down the gangplank of a former German warship onto a grey, gale-swept motherland. As they tell their word-perfect stories, a series of familiar archive images floods the screen: broad-brimmed, broad-smiled West Indians with their natty suits and meagre luggage; the scrum of cameramen snapping away at this strange and freshly-docked cargo; the calypsonian Lord Kitchener acceding to a Pathé newsman’s request and breaking into a reedy ‘London Is the Place for Me ...

Paradise Syndrome

Sukhdev Sandhu: Hanif Kureishi, 18 May 2000

Midnight All Day 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 224 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 0 571 19456 7
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... Hanif Kureishi got me beaten up. Admittedly it was by my dad. At home, as at the factory where for more than half of his life he had been a semi-skilled machine operator, he preferred to communicate with his hands. Yet as his fists whacked into my face I thought, then as now, how right he was to do what he was doing. He had come to England in 1965, spurred by the promise of quick wealth and the chance to flex his masculinity ...

Come hungry, leave edgy

Sukhdev Sandhu: Brick Lane, 9 October 2003

Brick Lane 
by Monica Ali.
Doubleday, 413 pp., £12.99, June 2003, 9780385604840
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... Brick Lane used to be the home of the dead. For centuries it was part of a Roman burial ground, an unclean extremity lying beyond the walls of the City of London. In 1603, a quarter of a century after bricks began to be manufactured here, John Stow described its buildings as ‘filthy cottages’. Since then, the area, whether one calls it Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets, Banglatown, has been a byword for poverty and violence ...

Urban Messthetics

John Mullan: Black and Asian writers in London, 18 November 2004

London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City 
by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Harper Perennial, 498 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 00 653214 4
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... Sukhdev Sandhu loves a certain vision of London. He finds it realised in the 1987 film Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, scripted by Hanif Kureishi, especially the ‘extraordinary scene’ in which the screen is divided and three attractive couples ‘are all shown fucking’. Here is cinematic confirmation of the city as a place of unpredictable pairings and joyful miscegenation ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bo yakasha., 4 January 2001

... be followed by, among others, Robert Crawford, Meg Bateman, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Billy Bragg and Sukhdev Sandhu. You might think the editorial staff of the Sun could learn a thing or two from attending some of the talks, until you have a look at Hold Ye Front Page, or its sequel, Hold Ye Front Page II (HarperCollins, £9.99), which ...


Iain Sinclair: Swimming on the 52nd Floor, 24 September 2015

... a base right beside John Clare’s Epping Forest asylum, and they’ll be back again tomorrow. Sukhdev Sandhu, who flew with the sky cops for his book Night Haunts, called the experience ‘the panoptic sublime’. The machines cost half a million pounds each, a sum that pays for a lot of clatter. Sandhu revealed ...

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