Three young men, and one woman, come together in a journey from India to England, where they hope to begin something new—to support their families; to build their futures; to show their worth; to escape the past.
Sahota is a writer who knows how to turn a phrase, how to light up a scene, how to make you stay up late at night to learn what happens next. This is a novel that takes on the largest questions and still shines in its smallest details ... Sahota moves some of the most urgent political questions of the day away from rhetorical posturing and contested statistics into the realm of humanity. The Year of the Runaways is a brilliant and beautiful novel.
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. (An epilogue, set more than 10 years later, is way too cursory and hasty.) At the same time, he’s written a novel that captures the plight of many immigrants, who count themselves lucky enough to have made it to the land of their dreams, only to worry that those dreams may be slipping out of reach.
“The Year of the Runaways is essentially The Grapes of Wrath for the 21st century: the Joads’ ordeal stretched halfway around the planet, from India to England. By following a handful of young men, Sahota has captured the plight of millions of desperate people struggling to find work, to eke out some semblance of a decent life in a world increasingly closed-fisted and mean. If you’re willing to have your vague impressions of the dispossessed brought into scarifying focus, read this novel.