The Year of the Runaways: A novel

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Shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, Sunjeev Sahota’s novel, The Year of the Runaways, intimately chronicles one year in the desperate lives of four illegal immigrants in the English city of Sheffield. After rioters destroyed everything, Tochi leaves India in search of a better life; he quickly finds that he is a pariah among his own countrymen who will not accept him because of his low caste. Avtar sells one of his kidneys to obtain a student visa; once in Sheffield, he must continue to make sacrifices to provide for his family back in India. To save his family from disgrace, Randeep arranges a visa marriage to Narinder, a devout Sikh with English citizenship. In Sheffield, the friendless refugees find stiff competition for work, a scanty supply of food, grimy living arrangements, and an intense fear of deportation.

Sahota brilliantly showcases the small, mundane moments in the migrants’ lives with interesting detail; the daily struggles of these few offer an overall view of the humiliation, destitution, and prejudice that make up the immigrant experience. With honest storytelling, Sahota avoids sympathetic language; he simply allows the miserable situations of his characters speak for themselves. This novel becomes emotionally exhausting as the narrative becomes more and more littered with despairing events. However, no matter how taxing, The Year of the Runaways is undeniably important and relevant.


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Author Sunjeev Sahota
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 496 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2016-03-29
ISBN 9781101946107
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2016
Category Modern Literature
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