Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Year of the Runaways” as Want to Read:
The Year of the Runaways
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Year of the Runaways

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  9,187 ratings  ·  1,070 reviews
From one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists and Man Booker Prize nominee Sunjeev Sahota—a sweeping, urgent contemporary epic, set against a vast geographical and historical canvas, astonishing for its richness and texture and scope, and for the utter immersiveness of its reading experience.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize
The Guardian: The Best Novels of 2015
Hardcover, 468 pages
Published June 18th 2015 by Picador
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Year of the Runaways, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,187 ratings  ·  1,070 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Year of the Runaways
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, novels, bookers

Number of horrible things that happen to people : 825

Number of nice things that happen to people : 3

Number of times young Sikh illegal immigrants ask shops, factories, take-aways and warehouses for work : 279

Number of times they actually get a job: 7

Number of times they eat roti : 933

Number of untranslated Panjabi words : 24,677

Number of times I thought Oh that's great, I must quote that bit for my review : 0 (it’s just not that kind of novel)

Number of times I thought w
Joan Kerr
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
Edna O’Brien once complained, “There is hardly any distinction between a writer and a journalist – indeed most writers are journalists.” I couldn’t help thinking of this as I read The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota, one of the books shortlisted for the Booker this year. This is a closely-observed account of the lives of young Indian men trying to make a life for themselves in Britain, working illegally in the guise of students, contracting fake marriages to qualify for a visa, being expl ...more
Ron Charles
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-favorites
Granta magazine tapped Sunjeev Sahota as one of the 20 best young writers of the decade, and his new novel, “The Year of the Runaways,” was shortlisted for last year’s Booker Prize, and yet it’s only now reaching the United States. That seems like an intolerable delay for such a celebrated book, but America’s fresh spasm of xenophobia makes this devastating story about the plight of immigrants all the more relevant right now.

“The Year of the Runaways” is essentially “The Grapes of Wrath” for the
What I liked

The opening:
Overwrought and fidgety, Randeep has put thought and care and elbow grease into welcoming Narinder Kaur to this seedy (but scrubbed) flat in the paradoxically named Brightside area of Sheffield. But what are they to each other? No inkling is given. (view spoiler)
(Based on past trends, this struck me as the safest, most likely Booker winner.) It tracks the difficult lives of four Indian immigrants in Sheffield. With multilingual slang and several Sikh characters, the novel illuminates aspects of the South Asian experience that might be unfamiliar. Daily life is a struggle for Tochi, Randeep and Avtar: they work multiple jobs to make ends meet, serving at Crunchy Fried Chicken, cleaning sewers, or building a luxury hotel in Leeds. The fourth protagonist i ...more
Barry Pierce
Nov 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
The plot follows a group of Indian men as they try to find work and livelihood in modern-day Britain. This whole novel is a character study of these men as we follow their lives for one year in 400ish pages. Sadly, this novel is so lacking in engaging prose or fully-rounded characters that one does not read this novel, they stare and wait for it to end. I did not care about any of these characters. There was nothing there to care about. And since I didn't care, I didn't derive any enjoyment from ...more
Helene Jeppesen
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was highly educating and very interesting to read! It deals with several Indians who all move illegally to London in order to earn enough money for their poor families back home. The characters don't know each other, but gradually their fates entwine.
I knew about illegal workers and about their poor conditions, but this book gave me a really good insight into what their lives and situations are really like. These people live from day to day in a constant presence of fear. They do this
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
This novel of Indian immigrants in the UK, most of them undocumented, and the young Indo-British woman so busy trying to help she risks losing her self and forging another—well, it all just ripped my heart out. With as much emotional power and rich characterization as Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, this is a tale of faith, home, love, and friendship—and what if anything remains when all that gets stripped away. Stunning.
What a bleak book. It tells the story of various "runaways" and the story of how they survive one year in Sheffield, UK. It gets into details of various men who are leaving India for one reason or another and go to Sheffield for work for money. It also brings into their lives a female, Narinda. The story jumps back and forth in time initially telling the story of each of the characters and why they are running away from India. It's a very good look at Indian culture. Now I have read a number of ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I am having a terrible time deciding on a rating for this. I really struggled with it in the beginning and if it hadn't been a group read I most likely would have set it aside. Then after the first part I switched to the audio and listened but read along. The narrator really helped bring the culture alive for me. He was fantastic and if you are going to read this book and you are a fan of audiobooks I recommend that.

The book follows the story of 3 men and 1 woman as they make their way
I'm a little in two minds about this bleak tragicomic page turner, set in the netherworld of Indian Sikhs working illegally at the margins of British society, and their hopes, dreams, motivations, problems and impossible choices. If you ignore the moments of comedy, it would be relentlessly depressing but very moving. Sahota is a gifted story teller and succeeds in making you care about the characters despite the horrific nature of many of their experiences. I did feel that given the number of P ...more
Ravi Gangwani
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk, india, booker-2015, europe
My second Booker-2015 book :
First of all this was very fast pace book with story running with speed of train.

"All you can do is surrender, happily, to its power," commented by Sir Salman Rushdie for this book. And this is why I was attracted towards this.

The entire book was based on three Sikkh lives: Avtar, Randeep, Narinder and one low caste person from Bihar : Tarlochan. The main issues concerned with this book was : Low-caste differentiation, poverty, illegal immigrants, condescending nature
Rajat Ubhaykar
This Booker-nominated novel about working-class Punjabi immigrants in the United Kingdom deserves all the praise heaped upon it. The lives and dreams of its principal protagonists are so finely sketched it feels the author has lived through it all himself. Utterly realistic, compelling, heartbreaking, this could be termed 'A Fine Balance' of the 21st century. Highly recommended! ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2016
Any discussion of illegal immigration these days generates all sorts of complex emotions and outspoken opinions. But the question boils down to this: under what devastating circumstances would someone with good intentions abandon the only life he or she has known and desperately strike out anew in an inhospitable country? And, more compellingly: who are the weakest -- those who stay put and call it a sacrifice or those who take a chance and fail?

Sunjeev Sahota’s searing new novel masterfully ans
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Story of four Indian immigrants to the UK – Avtar, Tarlochan, Randeep and Narinder, all of whom spend most of the book in and around Sheffield, although for the first 3 we have lengthy flashbacks to their previous lives in India and for Narinder details on her upbringing and visits to India.

A difficult story to judge.

The story relies heavily on Sikh culture and makes frequent use of untranslated object names, caste distinctions, expressions and curses – whole paragraphs being rendered close to
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3stars
Hi cunts, missed me? No? oh okay. What’s up?... Anyways, I changed profile pic because Larry is my son now and if anything bad happens to him I’m gonna kill you all and then myself :)
Sooooo I started it and then I was too bored to read or watch anything. Still am but two books I ordered arrived and two more are coming so I HAD to finish this. BTW i got it because it was 2€. Not something i would have picked up if it wasn't cheap.
It’s a good book. Yeah... it’s a solid 3.5 for me. Soooo I don’t re
Aug 16, 2016 marked it as put-aside
At some time in the past I might have sunk into this novel with relish, but I can't help finding it too discursive, micro, and slow-moving for my taste now. This could be completely cultural: I note that art-house Indian movies of the past often had this slow, black-and-white, silent melodrama about them.

Did you notice? There is little sound in this novel. I often felt like I had cotton wool in my ears and couldn’t hear India, or London, or the little shops where Tochi worked, or the restaurant
May 25, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, fiction, booker
I normally don't review books, as I don't feel myself qualified enough to provide an unbiased appraisal. In the review section of the goodreads, mostly I put my thoughts while reading the book and, sometimes, quote the lines I like. I won't attempt to review this book either. I will just jot down the thoughts that led me to buy this book and abandon it quarterway.

Amazon says, that in order to qualify for a free delivery, I need to buy another book of atleast 100INR
Lemme see…Lemme see…..
Not this
Arcopol Chaudhuri
Sep 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am not exactly a Booker-whore, so I approached this tome with some scepticism. I wasn't disappointed, thankfully. Everything about the book is depressing - the characters, their desperation, the futility of their dreams and the shocking realities they find themselves in, in land they're not fully familiar with. The good news, though, is that 'The Year of the Runaways' is at its core a pure-blood novel: it's comprehensive, compelling and compassionate. Each of the runaways -- Randeep, Tochi, Av ...more
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, 2015, 2015-booker
The UK news has been dominated recently by stories of people trying to get through the tunnel from France to start a "better life". There is a temptation to imagine that that "better life" must, in some small way, relate to the life I enjoy in England. Then you read this. You come to realise that the "better life" is sleeping on the kitchen floor of the restaurant where you wash dishes for 16 hours a day. Or it is dropping everything, including friends or the only other people you know who speak ...more
Nidhi Mahajan
The Dalit Subject in Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways.

While discussing his second novel, The Year of the Runaways (2015), Sunjeev Sahota, in an interview for The Independent, remarked, “If novels can do anything, it is shining a light into the dark tunnel, faces, histories, stories” (sic.). Sunjeev Sahota is a British author of Indian origins. His novel, The Year of the Runaways, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2015. The novel tells the story of four main characters. Tochi, Avtar
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was describing The Year of the Runaways excitedly to a friend this weekend after she asked me if it was good. She seemed interested, or at least roped in by my wide eyes and flailing arms. I asked her after I took a breath what she typically likes and she said: "It has to be happy." It made me think about what happy means in this book. The pursuit of it's characters is not as simple as happiness, nor is the word really used.

The Year of the Runaways is a stressful book to read, but an important
Paul Fulcher
Sep 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, booker-2015
"Do you plan to live over there in hiding forever. But you have no idea how hard it will be. Here you have a job, food, somewhere to sleep. You'll be sleeping on the streets over there. You won't be playing cricket in their parks."

Book 3 of the Booker Shortlist, and my favourite so far - but while perhaps shortlist material, not overall prize worthy.

The writing is relatively straightforward. The author starts the novel with some nice phrases ("he was less sure about the flowers, guilty-looking
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
The ending a bit disappointing, but overall fantastic hence 4,5 stars. Moving, smart, very current and extremely engaging. Impossible to put down. Longer review on the way.
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
More like a 4.5 (why doesn't Goodreads allow 1/2 stars?!!). Given my penchant for South Asian literature, I actually anticipated liking this a lot more than I ultimately did. I found the beginning slow and hard to get into, but at about the halfway point it really took off for me. My qualms come with the unrelenting bleakness of the storyline, and the difficulty I had (initially) keeping all the characters straight - especially when one or another would disappear for significant amounts of time ...more
Mar 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: man-booker
Do you know what the following words mean? golguppe, waheguru, chunni, darbar, gurbani, janaab, zindagi, tamasha, hafiz, etc.

If you don't and feel like a challenge, go ahead and read this novel that shines by its astonishing absence of a glossary! I couldn't even tell if the vocabulary was punjabi, hindi, tamil, bengali, or slang. This gross oversight cost it a star, since the writing itself was quite good.

This is a story about the cruel plight of illegal Indian immigrants in England; it is rath
Inderjit Sanghera
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Too often we look at the displaced with a sense of derision, a false sense of superiority as we are remain blissfully unaware that circumstances completely outside of our control have determined our different fates and that the position of privilege which so many of us occupy is far closer to the precipice than many of us would imagine. 'The Year of the Runaways' follows the lives of four characters-Tarlochan, Avtar, Randeep and Narinder, whose lives intersect and gradually intertwine in Sheffie ...more
Book Riot Community
This book has already made a huge mark prior to today's US release: It was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize; The Guardian and The Independent both named it one of the best books of 2015; and Granta named Sahota one of the "Best of Young British Novelists." I agree with it all! This is a very intense, textured story of three men and a woman who come over from India to try to make a life for themselves in England. It is a remarkable look at struggle and immigration, hope, and love while facin ...more
Adrian White
Sep 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
So obtuse as to be useless. There was some great potential in this - both in the story and in the writing - and it probably deserves more than a one star review, but I was maddened by the deliberate vagueness and obfuscation. Literary fiction often seems to suggest a thing is better hinted at than described but it's not: if something is worth writing about, then write about it - FFS! ...more
This was 4.5 stars for me. I would have given it 5 stars if I hadn't had difficulty getting into this very worthwhile novel. I have read several reviews-mostly by readers on "this side of the pond" , North America- who found the beginning difficult. Keeping track of characters and who was vital to the story was challenging. The easy solution for me was to look at the description on the back of the book that names the characters. I was captivated by the first chapter set in India, which reminded ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
cannot see the love for this book?? 2 17 Oct 22, 2022 10:50AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Page count correction needed: 9781101911884 3 13 Aug 19, 2018 03:36PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Passage North
  • The Promise
  • Satin Island
  • The Fishermen
  • Report for Murder (Lindsay Gordon, #1)
  • The Nao of Brown
  • Summer Blonde
  • The Lives of Others
  • Brick Lane
  • A Case of Exploding Mangoes
  • Dogs at the Perimeter
  • Harvest
  • The Inheritance of Loss
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Vol. 3
  • Perguntem a Sarah Gross
  • The Trees
  • Purple Lotus
  • The Fortune Men
See similar books…
Sunjeev Sahota is a British novelist. Sahota was born in 1981 in Derby, and his family moved to Chesterfield when he was seven years old. His paternal grandparents had emigrated to Britain from the Punjab in 1966. After finishing school, Sahota studied mathematics at Imperial College London. As of January 2011, he was working in marketing for the insurance company Aviva.

Sahota had not read a novel

Related Articles

  With more than 5.7 million votes cast and counted, the 14th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards are now official. Launched in 2009,...
135 likes · 59 comments
“Happiness is a pretty precarious state, Randeep. I'm content. That's more than enough. That's more than most.” 10 likes
“I don't see what's so good about helping others, though. If they only become reliant on you. Then you're just part of the problem.” 7 likes
More quotes…