When East of Acre Lane was first published in 2001, Alex Wheatle instantly became one of the key commentators on contemporary black culture and was featured in BBC news, radio, numerous papers and Channel 4. The BBC have already optioned ‘East of Acre Lane’ to be made into a film. Set in 1981, the year of the Brixton riots, the novel is a gripping thriller in a society on the edge of explosion. Wheatle focusses on Biscuit and his posse as a way to introduce the whole community. Biscuit lives with his mother, brother and sister. He helps out by hustling on the frontline for the south London badman, Nunchaks. He doesn’t want to be doing this for the rest of his life but it’s difficult to get out of the trap. As the patience of the community breaks and the riots begin to erupt, Biscuit has to make a choice that could change his life forever.
Reviews of East of Acre Lane
‘Alex Wheatle’s second novel is a rhythmic, fast-talking tour of the tower blocks of South London.The strength of the novel lies in the characters who form Biscuit’s posse … writing in a street slang that reads like an urgent urban poetry, Wheatle catches the dialogue of the friends and contrasts it with passages of distilled description. He observes meticulously the subcultures within the black community… It is this blend of frantic action and thoughtful writing that ranks Alex Wheatle alongside Courttia Newland as one of the most exciting writers of the black urban experience.’ The Times
‘Dubbed the Brixton Bard by his contemporaries, Alex Wheatle was always ambitious… He is first and foremost a story teller.’ The Voice
‘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
‘Wheatle’s novel is a bright, adventurous tale, jammed to the rafters with a parade of fine hustlers, headcases and herbsmen.’ The Latest
‘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.’ Big Issue