What can one do to outrun the vengeful past and escape inequality, gratuitous violence, and exploitation in a foreign land, or will these inequities stick as fast and close as a shadow no matter where one is? Is an unskilled immigrant’s life any better than a one-step-ahead-of-poverty existence in one’s homeland? These are hard but relevant questions Sunjeev Sahota personalises in a sweeping story of heartbreaks, betrayals and redemption - and it is evident why it has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
The second novel of Sahota is mostly set in Sheffield, a scenic city that can be considered either in England’s Midlands or the North. The fact however brings no comfort to a group of Indian immigrants thrown together in a cold, damp accommodation and doing any jobs they are lucky to get, some even holding two, to earn enough for their families back home, and too embroiled in the unforgiving present to dwell much on the “golden future” they visualised or were promised.