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The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

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Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015.

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2015.

Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota's generous, unforgettable novel is a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

If you like Sunjeev Sahota you might also like to read books by Hisham Matar, Stephen Kelman and Chris Cleave.


The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

'A brilliant and beautiful novel' Kamila Shamsie, Guardian The Year of the Runaways tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance. Thirteen young men live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband's clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call.


'Told in the most intimate of ways, not theorised but deeply felt ... Sahota is a writer who knows how to turn a phrase, how to light up a scene, how to make you stay up late at night to learn what happens next. This is a novel that takes on the largest questions and still shines in the smallest details. Sahota moves some of the most urgent political questions of the day away from rhetorical posturing and contested statistics and into the realm of humanity. The Year of the Runaways is a brilliant and beautiful novel.' -- Kamila Shamsie Guardian

'Novels of such scope and invention are all too rare; unusual, too, are those of real heart, whose characters you grow to love and truly care for. The Year of the Runaways has it all. The action spans continents, taking in a vast sweep of politics, religion and immigration; it also examines with tenderness and delicacy the ties that bind us, whether to family, friends or fellow travellers. Judges of forthcoming literary prizes need look no further. [...] For sheer emotion and vertigo-inducing anxiety, the [closing] scene ranks with Tess putting the letter under Angel Clare's door, or Omar Sharif catching sight of Julie Christie on a moving bus in the film of Dr Zhivago. You cry because of the terribleness of it, but also because you just don't want this book to end. Sunjeev Sahota is an absolutely wonderful writer. It is amazing that this book, so rich, so absorbing, so deftly executed, should be only his second. I doubt if I'll read a better novel this year.' -- Cressida Connolly Spectator

'An ideal antidote to a year of reductive discussions of immigration, Sunjeev Sahota's novel takes you deep into the lives of a group of Indian labourers thrown together in Sheffield. Deftly shifting in time and place, Sahota builds a portrait of the often painful circumstances that lead these men to abandon life in India for this cold, damp city, in the hope of starting afresh. This is Sahota's second novel. His first, Ours Are the Streets, was an acutely observed story of a young man's shift from ordinary British Pakistani teenager to Muslim radical. The Year of the Runaways is no less accomplished in its lyrical prose and ability to immerse the reader in the experiences of a hidden community in Britain ... It is a testament to Sahota's accomplished characterisation that he maintains sympathy with the men even after they commit crimes and take advantage of others' -- Emily Dugan Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Sunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev Sahota was born in 1981 in Derbyshire and continues to live in the area. Ours are the Streets is his first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


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