Before his untimely death at the age of 47, Dinesh Allirajah was one of the most versatile and accomplished writers working in the North of England. Whether as a performance poet, literary critic, wry social commentator or masterfully understated short story writer, his work was always international in scope, but local and personal in touch. Witty, irreverent, and intricately observed, his writing was informed by everything from raregroove jazz to experimental theatre, crime noir to stand-up comedy. Yet it always felt, and continues to feel, bespoke to us as readers.
The short stories, in particular, allow us to eavesdrop on the most intimate, unattended moments in their characters’ lives. Here, we get to know outsiders – migrant workers, beleaguered mothers, old and unwanted regulars in a pub that’s facing a refurb – people being slowly ushered into the background, or kept at a distance. Yet it is on these peripheries – far from where everyone else is looking – that Dinesh finds his stories, here that identities are reconstructed and renegotiated, here that we learn the most about ourselves.
Spanning over twenty years’ work, this definitive hardback volume presents a through-line of Dinesh’s compassion, activism, and literary perspicacity; a clarion call to find essential beauty - in art, music, sport, life - and to pass it on.