Saturday 19 March 2011

Ours Are The Streets ~ Sunjeev Sahota

When Imtiaz Raina leaves England for the first time, to bury his father on his family’s land near Lahore, he exchanges his uncertain life in Sheffield for a road that leads to the mountains of Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Once back in Yorkshire, he writes through the night to his young wife Becka and baby daughter Noor, and tries to explain, in a story full of affection and yearning, what has happened to him – and why he has a devastating new sense of home.

I'd read quite a lot about this author and the book and was pleased to get a copy through Amazon's Vine Programme.    Sunjeev Sahota was born in 1981 in Derbyshire and still lives there, this is his first novel. My thoughts are below:

"The premise for the story behind Ours Are The Streets is an excellent one, and in the right hands this could be a powerful story that could go some way to explain why young men that have been born and brought up in Britain feel the need to turn to extreme fundamentalism. 

However, the writing style in this book is so very odd. Imtiaz is a recognisable character, he is young, bored and has found himself married and a father at a young age, but there is nothing in his thoughts to make the reader feel as though he is particularly angry with the world, or that he feels hard done by. Imtiaz and his young white wife live in Sheffield with their toddler daughter, they married against the odds and Becka, his wife has 'reverted' to his relgion. 

It is not until Imtiaz's father dies and he returns to Pakistan for a visit that he starts to question his life back in England, and even then when he starts to associate with other young radicals there is no real explanation as to why he decides to become a suicide bomber. 
Life in Pakistan is portrayed as idyllic, with family members almost worshipping him, feeding him and bestowing gifts and money on him. Coming home to Sheffield brings him back down to earth with a bang, and he realises that he is just another young man trying to make a living. 

The passion and emotion that you would expect from a story such as this is lacking and the language is annoying at times but there is something strangely compelling about the character of Imtiaz that made me read on until the end. 

Living very near to Meadowhall, I did find Imtiaz's plans to blow himself up there quite disturbing, his regular visits to check out how busy the place was did bring home to me just credible a plan this could be. "


  1. Fabulous as always Anne, I find it amazing how many new authors I have picked up just by reading (and enjoying) the reviews from the girls on RISI and now via here xxx

  2. Excellent review! I agree completely that the writing style is odd, with barely any of things that you'd think would be in there to make up the plot are. A really unusual style. I can't say I really enjoyed the novel all told, but it was something different :)

    My review: Ours are the Streets by Sunjeev Sahota