First Writes: Sunjeev Sahota, author of Ours are the Streets

This article is from 2011

Sunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev Sahota

The debut author discusses his first novel, Edinburgh and some of his favourite novels

In his debut novel, Sunjeev Sahota introduces us to Imtiaz Raina, a loving father, son and husband who is preparing to die for his cause. The book is an open letter to his family as he aims to make them understand why.

Give us five words to describe Ours are the Streets?
Fathers. Sons. Responsibilities. Belonging. Home.

Which author should be more famous than they are now and why?
I don’t know how famous or not she is, but I don’t think I hear that much in the UK about the Canadian writer Lynn Coady. I think she’s brilliant: sharp, generous, serious, with an eye for the absurd, and very, very funny.

What do you love about book festivals?
I don’t know! Edinburgh will be the first book festival I’ve attended. I imagine I’ll love just spending as much time as possible listening to people talking about the books they love.

Which dead author do you wish was still alive today and why?
John McGahern, because I can never seem to read enough about the ways in which families and individuals interact, both with each other and the wider society, but mostly because I love everything he’s written and wish there was more.

What was the last book you read?
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright. I love her sentences, the way she docks on a word: an iPod opens up in an ear ‘a whole cathedral of sound’, while a drunk sits there ‘benignly absent, or horribly possessed by some slow creature, who rolled, between the distance between you, whatever sentence he could shape in his head.’

23 Aug (with Naomi Wood), 3.30pm, £7 (£5).

Sunjeev Sahota & Naomi Wood

Born in Sheffield to Pakistani parents, Imtiaz is considering blowing himself and many others to smithereens. With wit and compassion, Sahota takes us through Imtiaz’s story in Ours Are the Streets to explore how he could have reached this point. Wood’s The Godless Boys is an equally unflinching fictional account of a…

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