The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton Paperback – 30 Apr 2009
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I absolutely loved it. Heartbreaking and wonderful. He writes beautifully (Maggie O'Farrell)
Could not be more enjoyable, engaging or moving (Observer)
About real secrets, in a real quest for understanding. It's tragic, funny and disturbing. It will challenge you, and may even change you (Carole Angier Independent)
Hilarious, engaging, tragicomic (Meg Rosoff Guardian)
'Gripping and entertaining, horrifying and tender ... Exposes all those things we take for granted as we grow up (Hardeep Singh Kohli The Times)
Fans of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Coe will love this book (Psychologies)
Gripping, tender ... recalls A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Time Out)
Told with enormous compassion and dry wit. The climax had me on the edge of my seat (Jonathan Coe)
Funny, heartfelt (Marie Claire)
Hugely enjoyable (New Statesman)
It's 1979, I'm three years old, and like all breakfast times during my youth it begins with Mum combing my hair, a ritual for which I have to sit down on the second-hand, floral-patterned settee, and lean forward, like I'm presenting myself for execution. For Sathnam Sanghera, growing up in Wolverhampton in the eighties was a confusing business. On the one hand, these were the heady days of George Michael mix-tapes, Dallas on TV and, if he was lucky, the occasional Bounty Bar.On the other, there was his wardrobe of tartan smocks, his 30p-an-hour job at the local sewing factory and the ongoing challenge of how to tie the perfect top-knot. And then there was his family, whose strange and often difficult behaviour he took for granted until, at the age of twenty-four, Sathnam made a discovery that changed everything he ever thought he knew about them. Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into their extraordinary past - from his father's harsh life in rural Punjab to the steps of the Wolverhampton Tourist Office - trying to make sense of a life lived among secrets.See all Product description
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I must have read this book at least 10 times and am sure will definitely read it again.
His past is being explored from the present with the advantage of hindsight rather than being presented as a strictly chronological story. Hints are dropped about things to be explained later which adds interest and creates a level of tension. The time line jumps about - it is not linear in the western way but roundabout and circular in the Indian way (according to the author anyway).
SS uses an interesting technique of repeating sections of text to emphasise. Repeating sections of text to emphasise is unusual but works well. He also seems to have the ability to describe a situation and let the reader make up their own opinion without forcing you to agree with him.
I think I understand what SS was trying to achieve but the result is a little too self absorbed to engage fully with the reader as much as it could have done and it ends up as a book that I found too easy to put down.
There is lot of positive in this book particularly with the focus and exploration of schizophrenia. Having finished it there is a part of me that feels privileged to have been allowed into the life of SS. On the other hand though, he has written this book for himself and at times I felt as if I were intruding too far.