The other New South
While the term generally describes the Southern outposts of American hip-hop, “Dirty South” also seems to fit the South London streets of Dennis Huggins, the protagonist of Alex Wheatle’s sixth novel.
Dennis is a shotta, or drug dealer, partnered with his best friend
Noel, whose vibrant dialogue shows unyielding allegiance to his friend
and the Brixton streets. Along the way, Dennis falls for Akeisha, but
both love and friendship complicate life, as do race, class and
Dennis has studied his family’s Jamaican past, but
love causes him to contemplate his South London future. Hindsight and
history cannot tell him what waits around the next corner.
Dennis sees posters of Marvin Gaye and Mary J. Blige on his
girlfriend’s wall, the author shows classic soul and new soul sharing
space. It’s a skillful turn by Wheatle, also a DJ, as he mixes young
voices with familiar themes.