Review of Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways

9781101946107“We don’t live in a movie,” one character tells another at the wrenching close of Sunjeev Sahota’s big, ambitious new book The Year of the Runaways, to which the prompt reply is, “Would that we did.” No country on Earth in modern times has been more romanticized, more readily turned into a movie set, than has India, and one of the many things The Year of the Runaways does so well is to dispel that Merchant-Ivory sheen completely. This setting is a real-world India of poverty and low-boiling despair; the only way it could be more topical to 21st century economics would be if its title were The Year of the Economic Refugees.

The story revolves around three such refugees: Avtar and Randeep, two young sons of families whose middle-class comforts have steadily deteriorated to the point where the sons are no longer polished up and sent to Oxford but rather become pay-migrants willing to suffer any kind of servitude in order to send a little money back home, and Tarlochan (“Tochi”), a former rickshaw driver and so-called “untouchable,” and the novel finds them in Sheffield, England of all places, living in ramshackle circumstances, enduring daily humiliations in search of work.

Read further @ Open Letters Monthly

~ by eneryvibes on 1,May 26, 2016.

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