If the Drugs Don’t Kill You, the Sex Will.
When Rafi Rafiq and Richard Armitage leave their flat on Thursdays their ambition stretches no further than their giros and the bookies. Bonded from birth, blood cousins through school, failures in the hereafter, they share everything: draw, food, fags, booze and vaginas, an unholy pentagram of sleaze. Nowhere Rafi leads is out of bounds. Till now. He gets them caught breaking into Manchester’s first all-Asian brothel, Mohammed’s Butt’s notorious nach ghar, and they’re faced with a simple choice: pay or die. But Richard’s fallen in love – with Butt’s favourite girl, Fari – and decides they have to save her.
And, for Rafi, it gets worse: struggling to pay off Butt he resorts to offering himself as a starlet in a video nasty. Brown boys in chocolate. Soon Rafi finds himself wrestling, literally, for his life.
Reviews of Brown Boys in Chocolate
‘A bald man, naked but for a pair of black socks, peered out across the tall treetops and did what he always liked to do on stormy evenings.’
The Observer First Line of the Week 19th June 2005
‘(Southern) is as bold, brash and brave as you’d expect an ex-punk-one-time-pop-star to be. His life sounds like a novel in itself…the book exposes an element of Manchester I guarantee not many of us are familiar with…Weird, wicked, but a compelling read.’
The Big Issue
‘Paul Southern’s second novel, Brown Boys in Chocolate, follows Rafi and Richard, two friends since school whose lives consist of a weekly cycle of hustling, burgling, gambling and getting wasted. When an old debt comes back to haunt Rafi, the chancers are sucked into Manchester’s Pakistani and Bangladeshi underworld, with its courtesans and dance brothels. And, bizarrely, and unbelievably, Big Daddy-era British wrestling. Undoubtedly, Southern knows his stuff, regaling us with the nuances of Pakistani and Bangladeshi snobbery, but what illuminates this novel is the insight into the lives of the enforcers, pimps, madams and young women promised marriage and sold into prostitution. The switching of perspectives builds tension and makes for a gripping read.’
‘Southern’s the name, hard Northern crime is his subject. Manchester is his manor and he knows the crime scene, as he proved with his debut The Craze. Here, Asian lowlife gets scrutinised as two lads cross a brothel keeper and then wind up at the mercy of a sicko gang boss into video nasties. A gritty sequel.’