27 November 2007

Warwick Collins, Gents, 1997

Warwick Collins is one of those cross-genre writers who defies categorisation, something that has given him a great reputation for diversity across Europe while remaining almost unheard of here, his previous UK publishers finding him impossible to ‘market’. Ezekiel, Jason and Reynolds are three West Indian attendants at a London lavatory with a problematic reputation for cottaging and casual sex, and the council requires them to do something about it. They each have their own approach to dealing with the matter, each of them moral in their own way, whether combative or pragmatic. You need to put aside any preconceptions about a book such as this: there is some superb dialogue as the focus is on the interaction between the three men as seen through the eyes of Ezekiel. Gents started as a screenplay and ended up as a novel, but would still look great filmed for TV. Very literate and acutely observed, and deservedly seen as something of a underground classic.   PY

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