This novel was challenging to read but not because of Sahota's writing skills. It takes the reader out of their comfort zone reading about the struggles of Indian immigrants to the UK, living on the border of legality if not illegal. It certainly asks you to rethink your views about "economic migrants".
The novel explores the circumstances which motivate each of the "runaways" to try their luck in Britain, believing as they do that jobs and money will be easily available, enabling them to help their families. Their lives in India are centred on family but constrained by social expectations and gossip. Expectations that the younger generation(male) will have brilliant careers and support their parents and younger siblings; fear of not maintaining a successful facade seems to dominate the lives of the mothers. Women have few opportunities beyond the hope for a satisfactory marriage. All the families' hopes are pinned on the young men who are driven to terrible lengths to realize these hopes.
The lives of the young men in England are increasingly driven by desperation- the relentless need to make enough money to support family and pay off debts. They are preyed on by their fellow countrymen who also live on the shady side of the law. They have no recourse to England's social services as most of them are terrified of being found and sent home.
The novel exposes some of the truly unpleasant aspects of Indian society as well as the hollowness of the dreams of wealth and status in England. Although the young mens' stories end well, the ending seems tacked on and seems hardly plausible, given their dire and hopeless circumstances. However, the novel is hugely engaging to read and each character's story( there is one woman) reveals another aspect of the endlessly fascinating culture of India.
- Publisher: PAN MACMILLAN (2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9382616799
- ISBN-13: 978-9382616795
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
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