Empathy Action volunteer, Sandy, reviews Sunjeev Sahota’s book about three migrants from India. The book is shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize (winner announced Tuesday 13th October 2015) and follows the lives of three Indians as they leave their home country to head to the UK.
Randeep, Avtar and Tochi each have a troubled past but share a hope for the future. Sahota portrays the tangle of causes that lead to migration, the different methods involved and the impact made by the characters’ different castes.
He draws out both compassion and frustration in response to the web of issues; common themes of love, loss and duty, and the more complicated of culture, religion, and law. Some of his strongest voices are those of his numerous minor characters and their harsh view of migrants.
Sahota’s real strength is in showing that migration is not a ‘new beginning’ but part of an ongoing struggle as familial connections and responsibilities continue across the globe.
While I read this book, I found myself looking at people of other cultures on the street wondering what their lives might be like, and what responsibilities they were carrying. A good lesson in empathy!