China Room by Sunjeev Sahota is Hay Festival Book of the Month for May, continuing the Festival's campaign to celebrate and ignite conversation around new books that have particular resonance for us right now.
A multigenerational novel of love, oppression, trauma and the pursuit of freedom, inspired in part by the author's own family history, China Room twines together the stories of a woman and a man separated by more than half a century but united by blood.
Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family's 'china room', sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk. Spiralling around Mehar's story is that of a young man who in 1999 travels from England to the now-deserted farm, its 'china room' locked and barred. In enforced flight from the traumas of his adolescence - his experiences of addiction, racism, and estrangement from the culture of his birth - he spends a summer in painful contemplation and recovery, before finally finding the strength to return home.
Sahota joins us live online 11 May at 7pm while signed copies are over on our bookshop for sale now.
Hay Festival’s Book of the Month is selected by the festival team in Hay-on-Wye and aims to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Titles are sold in the UK through the festival’s online shop, as well as being available in all good libraries and bookshops.
Find out more about Hay Festival’s Book of the Month here or explore #HBOTM on social.