Niven Govinden (4 stars)

Graffiti My Soul (Canongate)

SOCIAL DRAMA

When a book claims that in its setting that ‘nothing bad ever happens’, you can rest assured that many different variants of excrement will be hitting the fan. With Niven Govinden’s zingy second novel, the disaffected youth of Surrey are up in arms, mobile cameras at the ready to inflict and capture a bystander’s humiliation. But what if the poor innocent is the worst person you could have chosen?

This is just one in a series of mistakes and misfortunes that afflict our teen anti-hero Veerapen Isaac Prendrapen, ‘the only kosher Tamil in Surry’. His athletics teacher is a disgraced paedophile and his best buddy still grieves for a sister. But worst of all, the girl V-pen craves is dead, with the journey to discover how Moon met her young end becoming the tale’s driving force. It’s a captivating novel and Govinden’s eye for the atmosphere on the streets and ear for the accompanying dialogue will prove difficult to better.

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