Book of the Month – May 2021

China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

Our May choice is China Room by Sunjeev Sahota

"A stunning novel, I'm blown away by it. I was gripped from the first page to the last" - Tessa Hadley.

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.

Read it? Loved it? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #HBOTM.

Buy the book

BOOK OF THE MONTH LIVE Q&A with Sunjeev Sahota talking to Alex Clark took place on Tuesday 11 May 2021, 7pm

Watch again below or on Hay Player.

Further reading

"I don’t see why I should benefit from migration when other people don’t" 

Rise and rise of the Man Booker shortlisted author

About the author

Sunjeev Sahota is the author of Ours Are the Streets and The Year of the Runaways, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and won the Encore Prize, the European Union Prize for Literature, and the South Bank Sky Arts Award. He was chosen as one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists in 2013. He lives in Sheffield.

About Hay Festival's Book of the Month

Hay Festival's Book of the Month is our monthly recommendation of a title we love and think holds particular resonance today. This is our chance to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry – new and old.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HBOTM and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments.

Each month we'll have a free digital event with the author for you to ask them questions and explore their ideas further.

If you'd like to recommend a book for consideration, please share on social media using #HBOTM.

Happy reading!