Books: Laureate of the Losers

THE RAGMAN'S DAUGHTER fay A/an Sillitoe. 189 pages. Knopf. $3.95.

Alan Sillitoe, whose first short novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, made him famous overnight at 30, is now in a fair way to becoming the laureate of the losers—the spivs, tea-leaves and no-hopers who never quite made it into Britain's working class.

In these spirited short stories, Sillitoe's characters command a rich dialect in which the underdog facetiousness blurs but does not hide wary resentment or cynical despair. In their softer moments, they would like to live like their betters—ride bikes, wear cloth caps,...

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