The Year of the Runways by Sunjeev Sahota

Waterstones February selection for recommended fiction book of the month, The Year of the Runways by Sunjeev Sahota “tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of an unlikely family thrown together by circumstance.”

A superb read, very different in content and style to Robert Seethaler’s ‘A Whole Life’, it cleverly weaves the story of a group of migrant men who come to Britain in search of a better life, into a exploration of friendship, loyalty and the cultural differences between the land of their birth and the one they want to make home. They come from a world very different from Britain and face many challenges to adapt to a land they viewed as a route to prosperity, but they soon realise is beset by its own cultural, economic and political fault lines.

I became very attached to the characters Sunjeev Sahota crafted to tell his story and was left with a sense of loss at having to leave them behind. Far from feeling excluded from their lives, because of the unfamiliar cultural references within The Year of Runnawys, they created a feeling of being an outsider looking in on a culture very different from the my own, but one I came to learn so much about. The point being for me that a multicultural society brings with it a wealth of experiences, that though they maybe different, need not be inaccessible when writers like Sahota craft a literary window through which we can gain understanding.

The only niggle for me was the ending was a little contrived, but it’s minor issue, in what is a supberly crafted tale of man’s continuing search for a better life.


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