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Marriage Material

Marriage Material [Kindle Edition]

Sathnam Sanghera
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"A stunning novel ... touching and funny and feels so fresh ... it just leaps off the page. I adored it." (Deborah Moggach)

"Having grown up in a corner shop in the West Midlands, I hoped that Sathnam Sanghera's Marriage Material would resonate. I was expecting acerbic wit, unsentimental tenderness and a Black Country setting - and it lived up to my stupid expectations. I really wanted to like it and I loved it - which never seems to happen. I usually damn things with high hopes. It was a lot of things I expected - funny and tender and scathing - but it's insanely gripping as well. So much of the newsagent detailing was completely spot on - there was plenty of my Dad in the character of Tanvir, plenty of all of my family in there really. A great achievement." (Catherine O'Flynn, author of What Was Lost)

"Enormously enjoyable.Marriage Material isn't simply an ingenious exercise in updating.Sanghera's central subject, as in his much-praised memoir, The Boy with the Topknot, is prejudice.One of the novel's achievements is to keep you in mind of all this while maintaining a tone of shrewdly humorous tolerance. Sanghera's forte is wry comedy tinged with pathos.There is a concluding twist that has all the poisonous horror of finding a cobra coiled around boxes of confectionary in a corner shop.[A] warm, keenly observant and immensely appealing novel." (Peter Kemp Sunday Times)

"A satirical masterpiece . A razor-sharp disquisition on the trials of being an Asian newsagent.Handled with a poignancy that makes it hurt to read. But those tears are soon replaced by ones of laughter . As past and present collide in a violent, twisty finale, it is clear that the caste system of the old country is alive and dangerous. Sanghera is such an engaging and versatile writer that the pages fly by in a flurry of pathos, politics and paratha with extra butter. Not many readers will recognise this satirical mini-masterpiece as a reworking of the 1908 Arnold Bennett novel The Old Wives' Tale, but everyone will feel richer for its uncompromising take on race relations in the Black Country." (Sunday Telegraph)

"His poignant memoir of growing up in 1980s Wolverhampton won Sathnam Sanghera an army of admirers as well as a clutch of nominations and awards. Five years on, he has turned his literary talents in the direction of fiction, with this funny and insightful first novel the result . A thoughtful examination of the complexities of modern Britain . An engrossing, entertaining and rewarding read." (Daily Mail)

"A novel that ingeniously 'shoplifts' (his word) characters and elements of plot from Arnold Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale.This dangerous material is handled with a darkly comic lightness of touch, and an impassively detached ironic tone that may owe something to Bennett - like Bennett, Sanghera makes good use of local newspaper cuttings, letters to the editor, and contemporary fashion magazine material, which gives an unobtrusively authentic period flavour to each passing phase. This book is so well researched you hardly notice the work that's gone into it.The mix of comedy, satire, realism and optimism is nicely judged." (Margaret Drabble Spectator)

"Smart, funny and melancholy, Sanghera's debut novel goes straight to the heart of family life." (Marie Claire)

"Subtle and often very funny prose . What lifts this novel far above cliché is Sanghera's deft sense of irony and self-awareness regarding his subject matter . The family's unfolding history is beautifully counterpointed by real-life events in the local political landscape . Sanghera's tender and funny book is a cracking and pacy read." (Meera Syal Observer)

"Sathnam Sanghera's entertaining story is a "remix" of Arnold Bennett's classic novel The Old Wives' Tale . Playful wit infuses the novel . But behind the humour and the plot twists, is an important novel that explores an often overlooked part of this country's history . That the story of the Victorian mercantile class told in Bennett's novel is so easily transposed onto the community Sanghera grew up in nearly a century later is absolutely fascinating, and by recognizing and exploiting this with excellent effect, he examines the nationwide story of British immigration through the prism of the Punjabi Sikh experience." (Independent)

"Important issues aired with humour. It's all here: issues around race, equality, gender, familial relationships, loyalty and community can be found in this gem of a multi-generational novel . It's not easy to cram in all of these big themes and also achieve a funny and touching read, but that's what the author, with a practised journalistic eye, has done . Brilliant . A superbly updated version of Arnold Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale. At its heart, this is a simple story of family . yet, all this is handled throughout with the lightest of touches, so that on reaching the end, you want to begin again to pick up the subtle nuances of this book" (Psychologies Magazine)

Book Description

An epic tale of family, love, and politics spanning the twentieth century, told with humour, tenderness and insight by one of Britain's most promising young writers.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1819 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (26 Sep 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,488 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Sathnam Sanghera was born to Punjabi parents in the West Midlands in 1976, attended Wolverhampton Grammar School and graduated from Christ's College, Cambridge with a first class degree in English Language and Literature in 1998. His first book, The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, published by Penguin, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. Sathnam's first novel, Marriage Material is due to be published by Heinemann in September 2013 and has been picked by Waterstones as one of the fiction debuts of the year.

Before becoming a writer Sathnam (among other things) worked at a burger chain, a hospital laundry, a market research firm, a sewing factory and a literacy project in New York. Between 1998 and 2006 he was at The Financial Times, where he worked (variously) as a news reporter in the UK and the US, specialised in writing about the media industries, worked across the paper as Chief Feature Writer, and wrote a weekly column.

Sathnam joined The Times as a columnist and feature writer in 2007 and also reviews cars for Management Today magazine. He has won numerous prizes for his journalism, including Article of the Year in the 2005 Management Today Writing Awards, Newspaper Feature of the Year in the 2005 Workworld Media Awards, HR Journalist of the Year in the 2006 and 2009 Watson Wyatt Awards for Excellence and the accolade of Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2002.

He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for services to journalism by The University of Wolverhampton in September 2009, and a President's Medal by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2010. The Boy With The Topknot was originally published in hardback as If You Don't Know Me By Now. He is trustee and advisory board chair for Creative Access, a charity which helps find internships in the creative industries for talented young people from under-represented backgrounds.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. 26 Sep 2013
A wonderfully written story of three generations of a Wolverhampton Sikh family, Marriage Material is first and foremost a hugely enjoyable novel. Spanning almost half a century, it is a story of politics, race, identity and, at the heart of it all, family. Having escaped from the family run Bains Stores, Arjan has moved to London, is working as a graphic designer and become engaged - to a white woman. However, the death of his father obliges him to return to the family business to help his mother - a temporary arrangement with no exit plan. Alternating between the 1960s and the present day, the story unfolds to explore the conflicts within and between families, communities and generations.

This is a stunning novel, in turns gripping, sad, funny and as the final truth is revealed, shocking. Marriage Material is a portrait of a time and a place, and a study of community and family and their power to divide and eventually, to unite. Told throughout with warmth, humour and an authenticity that reflects the author's own family background, I'd thoroughly recommend it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
For quite a few years now I've known Sathnam Sanghera as an always-interesting newspaper columnist and although I knew he'd written a couple of books,they didn't really grab my attention until Marriage Material came along this month. I got hold of a copy and I thought it was so good I finished it over the weekend. It's witty book, describing the lives of a Sikh family in the insalubrious city of Wolverhampton, and is full of insights into life in an immigrant community.

The story is told by Arjan Banga, a young Sikh whose grand-father came to England in 1955 with just a shilling in his pocket. With high hopes for a decent career, "Mr Bains" ends up in retail by buying a shop in the insalubrious city of Wolverhampton. By 1968 when the book opens, Mr Bains' shop is fairly successful, but at great personal cost to himself for he is now confined to bed with a variety of ailments, while his wife and two daughters run the shop.

The older generation of Sikh's like Mr Bains have to struggle with their children's' desires to get out of retail and do something more profitable. His growing girls seem to have ambitions for education while all around him Sikh boys go off to London to work in graphic design and I.T and horror of horrors, enter into mixed marriages with white English girls. Those who remain in the retail trade are a different breed, abandoning the old ways in favour of rap music, dope and souped-up cars. In Marriage Material, Sanghera deals with all these issues with a mixture of wit and pathos, illustrating the dilemmas of an immigrant community as he takes us through this family saga.

Mr Bains eventually dies and his younger wife takes up the management of the store on her own.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant first novel 26 Sep 2013
I was lucky enough to receive a preview copy of Sathnam Sanghera's debut novel, Marriage Material, finished it in two days and immediately started it over again.

It's a wonderful story: comic and poignant, layered and finely wrought, revealing Sanghera to be as at home in invented lands as in first person journalism and reportage.

In Marriage Material, Sanghera revisits many of the big themes of his compelling family memoir, The Boy with the Topknot: immigration, mixed-race relationships, the complex ties and tensions within families and the warmly drawn eccentricities of the British Sikh community. The corner shop setting is captured in all its tedium and minutiae, a cleverly chosen meeting place at once recognizably English and Indian that grounds the book in a humble realism.

I was intrigued by Sanghera's decision to rework the plot of Arnold Bennett's The Old Wives' Tale, which becomes a kind of sister book to a story of sisterhood.

The borrowed narrative forms another strand in the novel's fascination with interlinking histories, the late Victorian institutions and characters of Bennett's masterpiece audaciously time-travelled to the immigrant's Wolverhampton of the mid-20th century and later.

Sanghera clearly has huge affection for all his characters, but, as with his mother in The Boy with the Topknot, he reserves his deepest pathos for women. The tenderness with which he draws the character of aunt Surinder, whose mixed-race elopement provides the catalyst for much of the action later on, remained with me long after I finished the book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly good read 26 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I can only heartily echo the comments of other 5-star reviewers about this book. I agree with all the praise they have for it for the same multitude of reasons. Sathnam Sanghera is in my view an incredibly talented and versatile writer who draws on his own fascinating experience to produce both non-fiction and, now, fiction, that is engaging, moving, educational and often hilarious. I loved this book and will be recommending it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Country Beauty 26 Sep 2013
By K.C
This novel is a beautiful story and very touching.
I have already bought it as a gift for several friends.

The story resonates and rarely do you feel such empathy with the main protagonists when they live a life so far removed from your own.

It was incredibly meaningful with an unexpected drama at the end.

Historical elements were interweaved so cleverly. I learnt alot that i am embarrassed to say i didn't already know.

I loved this novel - well done Sathnam Sanghera for providing such insight in such entertaining form.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into, confusing at first
I found it hard to understand the two conflicting viewpoints until about halfway through the book, and thought it was not made clear that one was a flashback. Read more
Published 6 days ago by
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read
I really looked forward to reading another book by Sathnam Sangera having enjoyed The Boy with the Topknot so much. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Tricia
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful description of life in Wolverhampton by a talented writer
Having enjoyed Sathnam Sanghera's journalism when he wrote regularly for the Times I was fascinated to read this novel. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Ricky Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Asian Family's struggle.
I'd read 'Boy in a Top Knot ' by this author - an autobiography. This is fiction based on life. Very funny loved it.
Published 27 days ago by Mrs. Penelope Forsyth
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting take on the lives of the Sikh community in the UK.
I enjoyed this book, which I felt was well written and the writer also displayed a wry sense of humour. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Wadge
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle Read.
I didn't find it as engaging as the Boy with the Topknot and this story seemed to drag somewhat but it was quite enjoyable.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Mary Foulkes, Solihull MBC
5.0 out of 5 stars Devoured it
Like all the best of books I looked forward to clicking it on my iPad. I savoured every single page, learnt masses about Sikhs, Punjabis, India, good old Wolves, slang (innit) and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Taz
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put this book down
An excellent book, well written with interesting insights into the lives of Sheiks in Wolverhampton. I will recommend this book to all my friends.
Published 2 months ago by Pauline Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Just hits the spot and so not Arnold Bennett
I read The Old Wives Tale for GCSE (well A or O level at the time) . This is based cleverly on that book, but with a much better ending. Read more
Published 2 months ago by JCT
5.0 out of 5 stars smart and funny
The novel tells the story of three generations of a family, which emigrated from India in the mid-60s. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ray Garraty
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