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Sathnam Sanghera's debut novel is a luminous exploration of the life of an immigrant family in the UK, layering the contemporary story of a young man caught between British and Punjabi culture, the history of his family, and the new life he's made for himself. In a fresh narrative voice that wryly observes, questions, and reflects, Sanghera confronts the complexities of tradition, culture, love, and family. Readers will find more laughter than sadness, smiling even when the Banga family's story seems hopeless.
In an ordinary town in the West Midlands, Arjan Banga reluctantly becomes the new proprietor of the family convenience store after the sudden death of his father. Grimly reevaluating his life as he struggles to protect the store as well as escape it, Arjan gains a grudging appreciation of the family generations that came before him-of their courage and weakness, sacrifices, and follies. As Arjan begins to spend more time than he intended with the store, watching his London life and English fiancée slip away, he will have to explore the past in order to step into the future.
ejucation, Mr Banga,’ he resumed, when he sensed movement. ‘You and your fucking auntie think you’re mo’ better than everyone else because you have books. And your big lyrics and dat shit. But you ever think ’bout how your Chamar father paid for your ejucation?’ My head and body, wracked with the conflicting effects of pain and sleep, succumbed to the latter. I closed my eye. Ranjit bent down, grabbed my face and forced me to look up at him. ‘Who do you think paid for your private schooling,
could not be touched in case forensic evidence was ‘contaminated’. I guess if I had imagined anything, I had probably thought of the ceremonial application of a sponge to a head of an otherwise concealed corpse. However, what followed, at six the next morning, when I was ushered with two of my mother’s male relations from Southall, Ranjit and Mr Dhanda, Ranjit’s 78-year-old busybody father, through the back door of a funeral home, was far from ceremonial: an undertaker, not yet shaven, without
rush, which implied, in turn, that Mr Bains couldn’t have been too unwell. ‘I think they would have been in more of a hurry if he was in trouble.’ ‘Yes. They would have used the siren, right?’ Surinder felt reassured. And guilty about having teased Tanvir earlier. And sick at the idea that her father might contradict her when he returned. ‘He’ll be fine.’ ‘Yes, he’ll be fine.’ A long pause. The house had never been so quiet. He wasn’t fine. 6 – COMBAT THERE WAS NO shortage of surreal
from our respective homes, is also a struggle: I didn’t enjoy standing around getting high in alleyways and on school playing fields the first time round, when I was an adolescent. As for bhangra music with its repetitive beats, occasional cries of ‘Balle Shera’ and ‘Chak de Phate’, and lyrics fetishising fair-skinned women raised on milk and butter who look like peacocks and walk like deer – it has always left me cold. Then, the challenge of Singhfellows itself. My God, Singhfellows. Carved out
on baked beans, while he worked in a foundry to save up enough to set up his shop, when it would have been easier to return home; why Mr Jolly really would have, if necessary, gone through with his threat to set fire to himself in the road directly outside Wolverhampton Town Hall ‘in the mid darkness with only four or five companions’ if Wolverhampton Transport Department hadn’t conceded on the point of the turban. But Surinder knew better than to express her annoyance. It would give Jim too