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The Year of the Runaways

3.85 based on 3889 ratings & 582 reviews on

2016 Short-listed

International Dylan Thomas Prize

2016 Winner

Encore Award

2016 Winner

South Bank Sky Arts Awards Literature Award

2015 Short-listed

Man Booker Prize

2015 Short-listed

Sunday Times/Peters Fraser & Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award


18 June 15


Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015

'A brilliant and beautiful novel' Kamila Shamsie, Guardian

'The Grapes of Wrath for the 21st century' Washington Post

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.

In the media

Writing with unsentimental candor, Mr. Sahota has created a cast of characters whose lives are so richly imagined that this deeply affecting novel calls out for a sequel or follow-up that might recount the next installment of their lives.
New York Times
If you think literature is at its best when it combines the political with the personal, this is the perfect book for you. Sunjeev Sahota humanizes harrowing news headlines in the most intimate way; stories about migrant workers and so-called "Untouchables" are carefully captured with painterly details and empathy. The characters — three Indian men and a British-Indian woman they meet as they emigrate from India to England — lodged in my brain and stayed there, months after I put this book down to engage with others that I soon forgot . . . an important story about duty and love, beautifully told
The Grapes of Wrath for the 21st century . . . We know — from Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens and John Steinbeck — how such a monumental social novel should work. But the great marvel of this book is its absolute refusal to grasp at anything larger than the hopes and humiliations of these few marginal people. With that tight focus, the story’s critique of inequality, racism and economic slavery remains entirely implicit, but no less devastating. Instead of speed, it offers precision, gathering small morsels of spoiled hope until the story’s momentum feels absolutely overwhelming.
Washington Post