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Ours are the Streets Paperback – 7 Jan 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (7 Jan. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330515802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330515801
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 659,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A compelling tale of a young man's shift from ordinary British tennager to Muslim Radical'
--Bookseller

'[I was} Very impressed by it... remarkably good almost too good... linguistically extremely alive... it reminded my of Clockwork Orange' --Radio 4's Kevin Jackson

'A controversial book that takes us inside the mind of an ordinary man who decides his vocation is to become a jihad martyr... Imtiaz is vulnerable, angry, funny... the details of his life are entirely believable' --Marie Claire

'In impressive debuts of the year... Sunjeev Sahota... audaciously attempts to make us feel sympathy for a suicide bomber' --Observer - 'The Year Ahead'

'An eye-opening and, at times, uncomfortable read. Sahota's debut is engaging and thought-provoking, making it a good bet for the book club.' --Image Magazine

'Gripping...a pacey, unsettlingly sympathetic tale...a solid psychological thriller.' --Metro

`This is a sad, panicked story of physical, mental and moral decay. Imtiaz is not a villain or a monster, but nor is he exonerated; rather, he is a frustrating, lost boy frantically searching for something to attach himself to. What is most chilling, and most successful, is that it all seems so familiar, so close and so easy.' --Sunday Times

'The narrowness of Imtiaz's vision and lack of insight make this, although well written, a shockingly sad little book.' --Mirror Book of the Week

'a fresh and urgent take on a subject that, sadly, could not be more topical.' --New Internationalist

'Sunjeev Sahota conjures a . . . dizzying effect with his extraordinary debut novel. Ours are the Streets is a memoir of Imtiaz Raina and the accent in which the book is written is pure Sheffield. However, Imtiaz is no typical son of the city . . . What Sahota creates is not an exploration of the psyche of a suicide bomber, but an exploration of a man. Reminsicent of Hanif Kureishi's Intimacy, in which a man confesses infidelities to himself and his wife through his writings, Sahota brings to life a damaged young man who was so close to a life of utter normality. . . It would be easy to dismiss Imtiaz as a lunatic, were his voice not so familiar and written with such clarity in this highly impressive first novel that sets out not to offer answers, but to explore the mind of a man.' --Yorkshire Post

'That's not to say that young British writers aren't trying to tackle big "issues"; it's just that the canvas they use tends to be smaller . . . Sunjeev Sahota's gripping . . . debut is the story of a young British-Muslim from Sheffield who becomes a suicide bomber after his father's death. Inspired by the 7/7 bombers who attacked London in 2005, and written in the form of a confessional letter, the novel also foreshadows the case of Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, the Luton man who blew himself up in Stockholm in December. Sahota's treatment of his unlikely jihadi, Imtiaz, is convincing and sympathetic. The result is an intense psychological miniature. For all its geopolitical concerns, Sahota's debut remains an old-fashioned coming-of-age story, or Bildungsroman - which is traditionally what so many first novels, from Henry James's Roderick Hudson to Martin Amis's The Rachel Papers, have been.' --Financial Times

'Ours Are the Streets is both a thoughtful exploration of religious fundamentalism and a reflection on the cultural dilemmas faced by young Asians in today's Britain . . . The language that Sahota employs in Imtiaz's confession dovetails brilliantly with the themes of the novel, peppered as it is with bursts of South Yorkshire dialect and elements of Punjabi, Urdu, and pidgin English. Without overdoing any of these, he creates a linguistic mosaic that reflects the complex cultural issues that the book explores. It's the clash of cultures that lies at the heart of this deeply impressive debut.' --Waterstone's Books Quarterly

Book Description

An electrifying debut for all readers of Chris Cleave's bestselling The Other Hand --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is Sunjeev Sahota's first novel and if this is anything to go by we can expect some really great things coming from him in the future. This tale is a story of our times, but I should warn you some may find the storyline upsetting.

Imtiaz Raina is just an average son of immigrant parents, he is married to a white girl from university who is having his baby. It would seem that he is set to settle down into life quietly like millions of others, so what can change him to become a suicide bomber? This book is his notes that he wants to leave to try to explain to his family why he is doing what he is. Due to the nature of this this is written in a slightly disjointed style, and shows him travelling from Britain to Pakistan to bury his dad, and then onto Afghanistan, before returning back home.

This gives some idea in to how these people are indoctrinated by propaganda, false logic and all the rest. Imtiaz starts off seeming normal, but gradually as his life falls apart he becomes alienated and paranoid. This is a story that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it and should be a good seller.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daisy Wang on 15 July 2012
Format: Paperback
I came to this novel by a happy accident - I expected it to be Guardian-reader social realism, which is something I'd normally avoid. But it isn't that at all. It's a psychological study of - arguably - any young man struggling to find meaning and a place in the world. I don't agree with other reviewers who say the book needs more explanation of Imtiaz's motivation, of his conversion to radical Islam, because there was no conversion. To me, that's the whole, sad point. Imtiaz is a man adrift, sinking between two worlds, and if you asked him what he was dying for, he wouldn't be able to say with any real conviction.

What made this novel for me was the compassion at its heart. As one young man, Faisal, commits suicide, there's no glory or glamour, just the awful aftermath of the bomb, its effect on both the American 'enemy' and the local population and Imtiaz's sense of horror and personal loss.

And the quality of the prose is excellent. There's no question that Mr Sahota is an immensely talented author - for a first-time novelist, his use of imagery is extraordinary, and the structure of the novel with its skillfully revealed backstory works brilliantly. The depiction of Imtiaz's failing relationship and his impotence as his wife slips away is heartbreaking, and the reprise back to happier times at the novel's conclusion is masterful.

Sunjeev Sahota is a rarity, a writer who can really WRITE. I for one very much look forward to seeing what he does next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jill Ruddock on 13 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
The story of a young Pakistani man, Imtiaz, born and brought up in Britain who becomes radicalised during a visit to Pakistan / Afghanistan and becomes a suicide bomber. It's written in the first person in the form of a letter to be given to his family after his death. Some elements of Imtiaz's journey are clear, well explained and convincingly written using northern dialect and lots of detail. His ordinariness is striking as is the banality of his existence. He lacks drive, energy, ambition and is fearful, afraid to speak his mind, is reluctant to stand out from others and very self conscious. He doesn't feel any strong sense of belonging and doesn't really join in with his peers. He is embarrassed about his father's lack of material success and his humility and acceptance of disrespectful behaviour. But then what happens in Pakistan / Afghanistan is less explicit and less clear and this lack of detail undermines the credibility of the supposed transformation and prevents the reader from really understanding the emotional, political or religious journey. How was he chosen? Did he "choose" himself? Why did he wait so long to commit the final act? Would someone in his position have accepted Charag's defection as calmly as Imtiaz seems to have done? Towards the end did he experience a breakdown resulting from the pressure to act? Who was Tarun? In common with another reader I propose to read it again to see whether I can achieve greater clarity second time around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Pawley on 26 May 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sunjeev Sahota's first novel is an intense first-person account of how an awkward young man from Sheffield becomes a suicide-bomber. Imtiaz is the British-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and at the beginning of the novel, he seems to be as much a part of British society and culture as anyone else - he enters a relationship with a white girl, takes drugs from time to time, and although he goes through the motions of Islamic faith, he is hardly committed to it. We discover before long, though, that Imtiaz's sense of his individual identity is uneasy. Torn between his parents' native culture and mainstream British culture, he does not fully feel part of either.
Imtiaz's sense of isolation and lack of belonging become clearer on a long trip he takes to his father's village in Pakistan after his father dies. As he puts it:

'I loved it when I'd be going round the village and people'd shout me over by calling, "Mubtasim Ali's grandson!" or when they'd introduce me as "Munchiki's great-grandson". I were always so and so's grandson or such and such's nephew or whatever. I were never just me, on my own. No one ever called out, "Hey Imtiaz!" And I loved that. It were like for the first time I had an actual real past, with real people who'd lived real lives.' (p. 100).

In Pakistan, Imtiaz finds the promise of a sense of authentic belonging, but he does not really find the thing itself. He still feels out of place and unsure of himself. When he goes with some friends to visit Kashmir and then Afghanistan, his individual weakness and yearning for acceptance allows him to be drawn ever deeper into militant radicalism.
There is a problem with having this novel related from a first-person perspective, which is that Imtiaz does not have a great deal of self-awareness.
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