Peter Akinti was a seventies child, born of Nigerian ancestry, in London. He read Law at a London University. He has written for the Guardian, and worked for four years at HM Treasury Chambers before founding and editing Untold Magazine for five years. Untold was the first independent British magazine for black men and had a wealth of gifted contributors from all over the diaspora. Peter spent eighteen months in Nigeria, running a restaurant, beer parlour and cinema in Ondo Town, Southwest Nigeria. He currently lives in Brooklyn. Forest Gate is his first novel.
Forest Gate: A Novelby Peter Akinti
In a community where poverty is kept close and passed from one generation to the next, two teenage boys, best friends, stand on top of twin tower blocks. Facing each other across the/b>/big>
A shattering, poetic and raw first novel set among young Somalian refugees in the slums of London -- beginning with a double suicide and ending with a rebirth.
In a community where poverty is kept close and passed from one generation to the next, two teenage boys, best friends, stand on top of twin tower blocks. Facing each other across the abyss of London's urban sprawl, they say their good-byes and jump. One dies. The other, alternating with the sister of the deceased, narrates this novel.
James gives us a window into the inner city -- his mom is a crack addict, his gang "brothers" force him to kill another black boy. Meina describes with feeling her family history in Somalia: after her parents are killed before her eyes, her village aunt sells her to six husbands -- before she is even a teenager. Desperate to rebuild their lives, James and Meina set out to find the place for which every child longs -- home.
Brutal and shockingly violent in places, rambunctious and lively in others and slyly, dryly witty in yet others, Meina and James's journey toward life through their past is ultimately a powerful story of redemptive love and the debut of an extraordinary literary talent.
- Free Press
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Peter Akinti is a native of Nigeria who grew up in a poverty stricken neighborhood of London. He paints a harrowing portrait here of life in the neighborhood of his youth, describing what it feels like to be young, poor and black in today's Britain. The story begins with two teenage boys who are best friends attempting suicide together. Ashvin, an immigrant from war-torn Somalia succeeds, but James survives. Then James and Ashvin's sister Meina take up together. She asks him to live with her in the apartment she shared with her brother. He is happy to get away from his drug dealing brothers and crack addict mother. The story is told from several points of view, primarily Meina's and James's. Akiniti succeeds in getting the reader to really feel w'hat it is like to live a life of desperation and despair. You will also be shocked by the descriptions of the life that Ashvin and Meina fled in Somalia, where their parents were murdered by Ethiopian soldiers, and Meina was then sold off as a bride to a series of men by her Aunt.
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Forest Gate by Peter Akinti is a shattering look at life as a Somali refugee in London. James and Meina struggle to find a new life after the suicide of her brother, his best friend. The young men had made a pact, but when James' rope didn't snap his neck, he realized that life was worth fighting for, and he survived. The two recreate the days leading up to the tragedy as they slowly fall in love. Meina is a strong young woman who has already been "married" six times by her greedy aunt before she was rescued and brought to London. James faces unimaginable humiliation and horror in his life. Too smart to fit in with his drug dealing brothers, and always at risk of attack by the police or rival gangs, he's been forced to disengage from day to day life. This dark tale is almost unreadable at times for the stark horror it portrays, but the message of hope is powerful.