The Year of the Runaways
Short-listed for the 2015 Man Booker Prize
The Guardian: The Best Novels of 2015
The Independent: Literary Fiction of the Year 2015
From one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists and Man Booker Prize nominee Sunjeev Sahota—a sweeping, urgent contemporary epic, set against a vast geographical and historical canvas, astonishing for its richness and texture and scope, and for the utter immersiveness of its reading experience.
Three young men, and one unforgettable woman, come together in a journey from India to England, where they hope to begin something new—to support their families; to build their futures; to show their worth; to escape the past. They have almost no idea what awaits them.
In a dilapidated shared house in Sheffield, Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his life in Bihar. Avtar and Randeep are middle-class boys whose families are slowly sinking into financial ruin, bound together by Avtar’s secret. Randeep, in turn, has a visa wife across town, whose cupboards are full of her husband’s clothes in case the immigration agents surprise her with a visit.
She is Narinder, and her story is the most surprising of them all.
The Year of the Runaways unfolds over the course of one shattering year in which the destinies of these four characters become irreversibly entwined, a year in which they are forced to rely on one another in ways they never could have foreseen, and in which their hopes of breaking free of the past are decimated by the punishing realities of immigrant life.
A novel of extraordinary ambition and authority, about what it means and what it costs to make a new life—about the capaciousness of the human spirit, and the resurrection of tenderness and humanity in the face of unspeakable suffering.
Lyrical and incisive, Sahota's Booker-shortlisted novel is a considerable achievement: a restrained, lucid, and heartbreaking exploration of the lives of three young Indian men, and one British-Indian woman, as their paths converge in Sheffield, England, over the course of one perilous year. In India, Avtar Nijjar, unfairly fired from his job as a bus conductor, is engaging in a secret relationship with Lakhpreet Sanghera, the teenage daughter of a neighboring family. When Lakhpreet's 19-year-old brother, Randeep, is forced to abandon his education, and their government-employee father suffers a mental breakdown, Randeep is sent to England to make enough money to keep the family afloat. Lakhpreet arranges for Avtar to accompany him, although Avtar must sell a kidney and accept a predatory loan to afford a student visa, while Randeep travels on a marriage visa. His bride is the London-born Sikh Narinder Kaur, whose desire to help the desperate Randeep runs counter to her family's pious religiosity and her impending arranged marriage. Rounding out the cast is the 19-year-old Dalit Tochi Kumar, arriving in England illegally after his entire family is massacred by radical Hindu nationalists. Quarrelling, parting, and finding solace in one another in unexpected ways, Sahota's characters are wonderfully drawn, and imbued with depth and feeling. Their struggles to survive will remain vividly imprinted on the reader's mind.
The Year of the Runaways
This book is a treasure. It makes you want to reach into the pages and save all of the main characters. This will stay with me for a long time. Should be a college requirement!