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Diasporic Female Precarity and Agency in Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways

Mirza, Maryam (2021) 'Diasporic Female Precarity and Agency in Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways.', in Representing Poverty and Precarity in a Postcolonial World. . Cross/Cultures., 215


Sunjeev Sahota’s Booker Prize shortlisted novel The Year of the Runaways (2015) charts, alternating with numerous flashbacks, a year in the life of three Indian men in Sheffield: Tochi, an illegal Dalit immigrant, Avtar, who enters the United Kingdom on a student visa but very much with the intention to work, and, trying to escape a shameful past, Randeep, who arrives in the country on a spouse visa resulting from a sham marriage. My essay, however, is concerned with the two female Sikh characters, Randeep’s ‘visa wife’ Narinder and her unlikely friend Savraj, who, as we will see, are central to Sahota’s preoccupation with the various forms that precarity can assume for women and the complex expressions of agency that it can spawn in a transnational context. In particular, I trace Narinder’s changing relationship with her religious faith to demonstrate that the subtle exploration of female agency and defiance in the novel is intimately bound up with pressing questions of ‘honour’, freedom and moral responsibility in a profoundly unjust and unequal world.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:11 August 2021
Date of first online publication:18 November 2021
Date first made open access:18 November 2021

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