Well, if The Year of Runaways isn’t a heart-breaking work of staggering genius, then I don’t know what is. To me, it was like a modern, immigrant follow-up to A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, which has long been one of my favorite books.
The Year of Runaways is set both in England and India, and traces the plight of young immigrants – some legal, some illegal – living together in horrid conditions. Some might say depressing, but I’d prefer to describe it as an accurate depiction of a harsh reality. This stuff is going on as we speak. This is a novel about issues that so often remain hidden. And it is also captivating.
One of the things I most enjoyed was how my reaction to various characters changed over time. These are people struggling, who do the most awful and wonderful things. Although things may appear black and white, they don’t stay that way for long.
Who would like this book? The Year of Runaways was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2015, so you know it’s quality. Because of it’s setting – Northern England – and it’s Punjabi-ness, I’m going to set it beside Marriage Material by Santham Sanghera (review). Both books deal with issues of class, caste, racism, religion and sexism. Both are big and important books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.