London Skin & Bones: The Finsbury Park Stories
by Ian Young
Squares & Rebels. 128 pages, $18.
THE NORTH LONDON neighborhood of Finsbury Park is a prominent example of the demographic and cultural shifts that have marked the city’s emergence into the current century. Across from its busy tube station, the dome and minarets of the North London Central Mosque rise up above and alongside the area’s old brown-brick homes. The Arsenal Football Club stadium looms not far off. Men and women in traditional Muslim attire mingle on the streets with native Londoners, Sikhs, Cypriots, and Somalis, among others. High Street holds traditional pubs, Oxfam shops, trendy restaurants, and boutiques, as well as halal markets and Muslim barbers.
These are the streets where the stories in Ian Young’s collection Skin & Bones take place, but his Finsbury Park is the one that existed in the 1980s, Thatcher’s era, when the area was sleepier and less ethnic than it is now. Jim Nawrocki, a frequent reviewer in these pages, is a writer based in San Francisco.