Immigrant Lev's odyssey is a story of hope and determination in the face of obstacles. An absorbing mix of comedy and tragedy, I shared his emotions and experiences and really cared about his setbacks and his triumphs. An effortless read as a fast-moving 'what happens next' narrative with an engrossing portrayal of modern-day multicultural England thrown in for good measure.
After some time, a young man, wearing overalls, unshaven and carrying a canvas bag of tools, approached the washroom turnstile and Lev decided that this man – because he was young and because the overalls and the work-bag marked him as a member of the once-honourable proletariat – might not pretend that he hadn’t seen him, so he said as carefully as he could: ‘May you help me, please?’
The man had long, untidy hair and the skin of his face was white with plaster dust. ‘Sure,’ he said. ‘What’s up?’
Lev indicated the turnstile, holding up a twenty-pound note. The man smiled. Then he rummaged in the pocket of his overalls, found a coin, handed it to Lev and snatched the note away. Lev stared in dismay. ‘No,’ he said. ‘No, please …’
But the young man turned, went through the barrier and began to walk into the washroom. Lev gaped. Not a single word of English would come to him now and he cursed loudly in his own language. Then he saw the man coming back towards him with a smile that made dark creases in the white dust of his face. He held the twenty-pound note out to Lev. ‘Only joking,’ he said. ‘Just joking, mate.’