Man Booker Longlist 2015: The Year of the Runaways Sunjeev Sahota
Less than 1 week away from the shortlist announcement and we actually might make it through the entire list! This last week has been a rush to get them all finished before the 15th. We’ll go back to our usual 3 days per week posting schedule as soon as we are done with the long list books. Next up… The Year of the Runaways by Sahota. Will this make our short list?
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
Published in: 2015
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it/buy it here:The Year of the Runaways
Synopsis (from Amazon): 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. Sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day, Sunjeev Sahota’s generous, unforgettable novel is – as with Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance – a story of dignity in the face of adversity and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t feel that it was anything particularly special. In my normal star rating system this would have been a 3 star book.
I have given this an average rating of 4 for originality because I feel all the major themes have been done before. Themes and ideas that come up in this book include immigration to Britain for a better life, family problems, life of western women versus life of eastern women, treatment and mistreatment of various castes in India, social issues that make immigration necessary, and the realisation that moving to a new country won’t necessarily solve your problems. I can probably name a different book to cover each theme. What gives this book its originality is the fact it combines all those themes into one narrative, thus making it more ambitious than some other novels I have read.
I did give this book maximum points for character complexity because I found that each character was well defined. They all have their own reasons for their actions and no character is all good or all bad — they are humanly flawed. I also found that the interaction between characters worked well.
In terms of writing, this is well written but it is a blunt matter-of-fact kind of writing. It has none of the poetry that can be found in some of the other longlist books and the use of language is more basic.
Here are my ratings:
Available in English 1 / 1
Published in the UK 1 / 1
Originality 4 / 8
Character Complexity 5 / 5
Writing Quality 4 / 5
Personally, this would not make my shortlist.
Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Year of the Runaways
Have you read this book? What did you think? Would it make your shortlist?
We have now completed 9/13 long list books and here are our rankings to date:
- Little Life: (based on Jen’s rating) & The Illuminations (based on Book Worm’s Rating): 18/20
- The Chimes by Anna Smaill 17.25 (average rating Jen & Book Worm)
- The Fishermen (based on Jen’s rating): 16/20
- Lila & The Year of the Runaways (both based on book worm ratings): 15/20
- A Spool of Blue Thread: 14/20 (based on book worm’s rating)
- The Green Road (joint rating) & Satin Island (book worm’s rating): 13/20
This latest book bumps A Spool of Blue Thread off our personal shortlist. Next up will be Jen’s review of Sleeping on Jupiter by Roy.