Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022

Reading guide for The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Year of the Runaways

A novel

by Sunjeev Sahota

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota X
The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2016, 496 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2017, 496 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. Woven throughout the narrative of The Year of the Runaways is a complex exploration of class and economics. Discuss the rigidity of the class system in India. How does social class prohibit or grant economic opportunities for the characters in the novel? Does social class carry the same significance in England as it does in India?
  2. What role does the gurdwara play in the community? Does it have different functions in India than it does in England? Which characters rely on it most heavily?
  3. A sense of anxiety pervades throughout The Year of the Runaways, particularly regarding the prospect of raids. Discuss how this anxiety manifests for various characters. Who is most cautious in their day-to-day life?
  4. Discuss Narinder's personal evolution over the course of the novel. What is the catalyst for her rebellion? Which characters help to challenge her ideas about the roles that women can fulfill?
  5. Of the three male protagonists, Randeep's entrée into England is seemingly the least dangerous method. Discuss his experience getting to England, and his expectations for his relationship with Narinder. What hopes does he have for their marriage?
  6. When Randeep and Avtar arrive in England, they initially stay in Randeep's aunt's home. Discuss the interaction between Avtar and Randeep's cousin Aki on page 196. What does their conversation reveal about biases held towards immigrants? About family structure in Indian communities? Gender roles?
  7. Discuss Avtar's relationship with Dr. Cheema over the course of the novel. How does their first meeting set the tone for the rest of their interactions? How does Cheema's own search for identity coincide with Avtar's journey towards citizenship?
  8. Tochi's class, or caste, identity as a chamaar follows him throughout the novel. How are chamaars discussed by other characters in the novel? How is Tochi's careful crafting of an ambiguous "immigrant identity" a means of survival? Discuss the incident with the matchmaking aunty. What does this assert about the ugly and pervasive face of classism?
  9. Early in the novel, out of obligation to Randeep, Avtar chooses Avtar chooses to turn down the position that Dr. Cheema secured for him. Discuss the concept of familial obligation over personal freedom. How does this echo throughout the novel? Which characters feel that most acutely?
  10. How does food serve as a form of comfort throughout The Year of the Runaways? Discuss how Tochi and Narinder's relationship is deepened through the act of cooking.
  11. On page 289, Narinder asks: "Did these women not understand that duty, that obligation, could be a form of love?" Discuss how Narinder's understanding of her duties and obligations changes over the course of the novel. How does her faith cause familial tension? How does her relationship with Savraj expand her worldview?
  12. How would you characterize Avtar and Randeep's relationship? How much of their bond is attributed to Avtar's obligation to Randeep's sister? Discuss the scene wherein Avtar takes a job, leaving Randeep behind. How does the desperation for jobs strain their relationship? Other relationships in the novel?
  13. Narinder and Tochi slowly forge a bond out of mutual respect and trust, and eventually realize that these feelings are that of love. Given the depth of their feelings for each other, why do you think she turns him down? Is it out of guilt? Obligation?
  14. The Year of the Runaways is a novel that celebrates the incredible tenacity of the human spirit. Where does each character find hope in the most dire circumstances? What comforts them, if anything?
  15. Discuss the epilogue of the novel. How would you describe the fate of each character? Which character, if any, has found happiness?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Seva in Sikhism

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: I'm the Girl
    I'm the Girl
    by Courtney Summers
    YA author Courtney Summers doesn't believe in shielding her teenage readers from the world's darkest...
  • Book Jacket: They're Going to Love You
    They're Going to Love You
    by Meg Howrey
    Teenage Carlisle lives with her mother in Ohio, but their relationship has never felt particularly ...
  • Book Jacket: The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen
    by Isaac Blum
    That irreplaceable feeling of everyone knowing your name. The yearning to be anonymous. Parents ...
  • Book Jacket: Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    Now Is Not the Time to Panic
    by Kevin Wilson
    The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W N, W Not

and be entered to win..

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Bell in the Lake
by Lars Mytting
The engrossing epic novel - a #1 bestseller in Norway - of a young woman whose fate plays out against her village's mystical church bells.
Who Said...

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.