One Last Selfless Act

Thomas Jones

  • The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
    Picador, 468 pp, £14.99, June 2015, ISBN 978 1 4472 4164 5

Sunjeev Sahota’s novel begins with a man showing a woman round a flat. She is going to live there; he is not. We are told their names, Randeep Sanghera and Narinder Kaur, and that they’re in Sheffield, and that she used to live in London. We can work out that they’re Sikh from their names, and because she greets him with the formula ‘Sat sri akal.’ It’s obvious that they don’t really know each other, though they have met before, but not here: ‘So, even in England she wore a kesri.’ The scene is described in the third person, but from Randeep’s point of view. His seriousness doesn’t detract from the bleak comedy of it: ‘“There is a microwave too,” he said, pointing to the microwave. “And washing machine. And toaster also, and kettle and sofa-set … carpet …” He trailed off, ridiculous to himself.’

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