Monday, September 17, 2012

Trading Tatiana

'Trading Tatiana' by Debi Alper (2005) is very much a South London novel. The main character is Jo, an ex-heroin user living in 'Boddington Heights', a tower block on the Old Kent Road. She gets involved with helping Tatiana, a Ukrainian sex worker running in fear for her life.

If that sounds a bit grim, the book is actually quite lightly written with comic touches and a plot that keeps the pages turning. Among other SE London elements the novel includes:

- a circus on Peckham Rye;
- a friendly housing co-op in the Kirkwood Road/Gordon Road area of Nunhead/Peckham (not named but described as 'running from a low-rise estate at one end down to Nunhead Green at the other');
- a stall on Greenwich market;
- an agorophobic candle maker in New Cross;
- a dramatic encounter in the National Maritime Museum.

Alper has written a number of books and seems to have led an interesting life, including a spell in the actual Shangri La Housing Co-op in Peckham in the early 1990s (the Co-op in the novel is called Nirvana instead). An earlier novel, Nirvana Bites (which I haven't yet read), is also set around the fictional Peckham co-op.

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