East of Acre Lane
Biscuit feels like his life is running out of control. He needs to sort himself out fast, but how? Biscuit and Coffin Head hustle on the front line for Nunchaks. He wants to give it up but he also needs to support his family – his mother, his sister Denise and his brother, Royston. He knows he should be looking for a job, Carlo tells him that every time they meet. Perhaps he should listen to Jah Nelson, who tells him that education is the key. But Biscuit has chosen a bad time to sort himself out: Brixton is angry – temperatures are high and ready to burst and, worst of all, Denise has caught the eye of Nunchaks. As the riots begin, Biscuit has to make a choice, whatever the consequences, that will change his life forever.
Fourth Estate UK
Au Diable Vauvert France
Edizioni Spartaco Italy
'Alex Wheatle's second novel, after his acclaimed debut, Brixton Rock, is a similarly hard-hitting slice of social commentary. The narrative turns on young, petty criminal Biscuit, and his reluctant involvement in ghetto politics and small-time gangster life, as set against the backdrop of the Brixton riots in 1981. Wheatle has a compelling prose style - equal parts Richard Price and Chester Himes - and the heady, dope-soaked, scarily aggressive atmosphere of south London is conveyed extremely well. Wheatle's style and command of language and plot ensure he is a writer to watch.'
'Beautifully written, funny and full of insight, this is one of the best novels about postwar London to have been written in recent years.'
'Alex Wheatle weaves witty patois dialogue and cool, crisp narrative into a tone of playful irony, wholly free of rant or rancour.'
'A welcome trip down memory lane by the Brixton bard. His prose is sharp as a barber’s cutthroat, the musical references make you jump and prance and the hard-edged dialogue brilliantly captures that London vibe. Thrilling, very funny, and most of all a page turner.'
'Alex Wheatle's second novel is a rhythmic, fast talking tour of the tower blocks of South London… It is this blend of frantic action and thoughtful writing that ranks Alex Wheatle as one of the most exciting writers of the black urban experience.'
'In East of Acre Lane Alex Wheatle has managed far more than simply pulling off a fast, punchy morlaity tale centring on a young man's dilemma about going straight or opting for a life of crime… Action packed, funny and filled with cocky banter between its teenage male characters, references to reggae music and street stye, its a cool, credible read… Wheatle has written a hardhitting novel which is an incendiary reminder of one of the most explosive events in London's post war history.'
The Big Issue
'This is a vibrant book pulsing with the reggae beats of the era. The dialogue…has rhythm and inventiveness. And the violent climax is a cathartic one, the logical and positive first stage of a revolution.'
Independent on Sunday
'This gripping second novel by Wheatle gives a searing account of a young man’s attempt to do the right thing, set against the backdrop of one of the most explosive moments in London’s history – the Brixtion Riot. You simply will not want to put this book down until you have finished reading it.'
'Treading a Dubliners-esque terrain which swallows up the Brixton landscape, the novel spits out the simmering frustrations of being young, black and British during the Thatcher years. The air hangs heavy with the scent of marijuana and trouble brewing on the streets. Culminating in the Brixton riots of 1981, the personal and political battles fought by a motley crew of community elders, disenfranchised youngsters, party-goers, petty criminals and gangster types set the page alight. A trademark naturalistic style and a clarity of prose ensure that Wheatle retells a shaping episode in recent British history and tellingly, captures as much of today’s mood as he does of an unforgettable '81'