The real strength of Selvon’s stories are perhaps not as a work of art, but as an exploration of 1980’s London through the eyes of various West Indian men; this aligns with Selvon’s hyper-realistic prose style, one which dispenses of prettiness in favour or authenticity. Whether it be the smog filled streets of London, the disorientating nature of big city life, the everyday prejudices which many of these men had to live through, or the feeling these men had of being cast adrift, of existing on the fringes of a society which neither wants nor understands them, there is something understated in Selvon’s ability as a social observer. Part of the problem with Selvon’s prose style is that we never really get to know the characters; instead we get superficial portraits of their quirks and behaviours through the eyes of the narrator and although the reader is able to sense that there are whole human beings behind these characters which Selvon is able to bring out, it feels like there are further depths to these characters which which we want the narrator to tease out.

In the end ‘The Lonely Londoners’ acts as a series of connected vignettes rather than a coherent narrative, although that plays to Selvon’s strengths as a social commentators, it also downplays his abilities as a writer to fashion truly original worlds and characters.