SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD AND LONGLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE
FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BOY WITH THE TOPKNOT AND EMPIRELAND
'A stunning novel . . . touching and funny and feels so fresh . . . it just leaps off the page. I adored it' DEBORAH MOGGACH
When Arjan returns to the Black Country after his father's death, his family's corner shop represents everything he tried to leave behind. But his mother insists on keeping the business open, and Arjun finds himself being dragged back from London, and forced into big decisions about his own relationship. Yet Arjan's story isn't the first and it won't be the last: Surinder and Kamaljit, two sisters, a generation back in the family, also experienced their own share of betrayals and loyalties, loves and regrets.
Enormously enjoyable…Marriage Material isn’t simply an ingenious exercise in updating…Sanghera’s central subject, as in his much-praised memoir, The Boy with the Topknot, is prejudice…One of the novel’s achievements is to keep you in mind of all this while maintaining a tone of shrewdly humorous tolerance. Sanghera’s forte is wry comedy tinged with pathos…There is a concluding twist that has all the poisonous horror of finding a cobra coiled around boxes of confectionary in a corner shop…[A] warm, keenly observant and immensely appealing novel.
Having grown up in a corner shop in the West Midlands, I hoped that Sathnam Sanghera's Marriage Material would resonate. I was expecting acerbic wit, unsentimental tenderness and a Black Country setting – and it lived up to my stupid expectations. I really wanted to like it and I loved it - which never seems to happen. I usually damn things with high hopes. It was a lot of things I expected - funny and tender and scathing - but it's insanely gripping as well. So much of the newsagent detailing was completely spot on – there was plenty of my Dad in the character of Tanvir, plenty of all of my family in there really. A great achievement.
A satirical masterpiece … A razor-sharp disquisition on the trials of being an Asian newsagent…Handled with a poignancy that makes it hurt to read. But those tears are soon replaced by ones of laughter … As past and present collide in a violent, twisty finale, it is clear that the caste system of the old country is alive and dangerous. Sanghera is such an engaging and versatile writer that the pages fly by in a flurry of pathos, politics and paratha with extra butter. Not many readers will recognise this satirical mini-masterpiece as a reworking of the 1908 Arnold Bennett novel The Old Wives’ Tale, but everyone will feel richer for its uncompromising take on race relations in the Black Country.
His poignant memoir of growing up in 1980s Wolverhampton won Sathnam Sanghera an army of admirers as well as a clutch of nominations and awards. Five years on, he has turned his literary talents in the direction of fiction, with this funny and insightful first novel the result … A thoughtful examination of the complexities of modern Britain … An engrossing, entertaining and rewarding read.
Whether you're more Bing Crosby or Mariah Carey, Wham! or Destiny’s Child, there’s a perfect book to match your favourite yuletime hit.