Mapping Freedom, or Its Limits: The Politics of Movement in Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners

Lisa M. Kabesh


This paper argues for a reassessment of Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners, and specifically re-examines the mapping of movement performed in the text in order to query the relationship between movement and freedom in the racially-segregated and -stratified space of post-war London. In particular, it troubles a straight-forward reading of movement that equates mobility, including "upward mobility," with freedom. Much of the criticism surrounding Selvon's text focuses on the enunciation of community in the novel. This paper instead asks which forms of movement Selvon critiques and which forms he promotes in his enunciation of community; moreover, it calls for an examination of the type of political movement Selvon's text suggests. It is the central premise of this essay that The Lonely Londoners works not only to produce community, but to query the relationship between political movement on the one hand, and community-building on the other.


Sam Selvon; The Lonely Londoners; mobility; freedom; diaspora; race

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