Posted 20 hours ago

China Room: The heartstopping and beautiful novel, longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021

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Thank you Netgalley and Random House UK / Vintage for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review. Here’s a fun fact you may not have known about Sunjeev Sahota, the author of the Booker Prize-shortlisted 2015 novel The Year of the Runaways and incredible new novel China Room: Sunjeev hadn’t read a novel until he was 18. Did he wonder, like I did, like I still do whenever I see my daughter be so casually, so unthinkingly, sidelined in the playground, did he too wonder if these people would ever agree to share ownership of this land ?

China Room really shouldn’t have worked for me — it’s kind of a sentimental historical drama, dripping with desire and forbidden love — but it touched me.For the Vintage Books podcast, Sunjeev Sahota and Kamila Shamsie spoke with Ted Hodgkinson, head of literature and spoken word at Southbank Centre and a former International Booker Prize judge, about China Room, authorship, writing histories, and more. And Yen (ph), the 18-year-old narrator, which is looked back on by the 40-year-old - his 40-year-old self, he starts to see these connections.

But more than that, it's about her coming to a place where she takes control of her personhood, of her right to feel desire.

The two narratives share themes (beyond the fact that the two protagonists are relatives), with the 1929 storyline making up probably about 3/4 of the book. Apparently roughly based on Sahota’s own family history (there is a photo at the end of a very old woman holding a baby; is that Mehar with her great-grandson, the author?

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