To Arjan Banga, returning to the Black Country after the unexpected death of his father, his family’s corner shop represents everything he has tried to leave behind – a lethargic pace of life, insular rituals and ways of thinking. But when his mother insists on keeping the shop open, he finds himself being dragged back, forced into big decisions about his imminent marriage back in London and uncovering the history of his broken family – the elopement and mixed-race marriage of his aunt Surinder, the betrayals and loyalties, loves and regrets that have played out in the shop over more than fifty years.
This is an epic tale of family, love, and politics, spanning the second half of the twentieth century, and the start of the twenty-first. Told with humour, tenderness and insight, it manages to be both a unique and urgent survey of modern Britain.
Wow – really enjoyed this book. It’s heart-warming, funny, poignant and a wonderful insight into racial and racist Britain from 60s until present day.
Loved the chapters – each one a magazine sold at the Bains Stores – and mirroring a part of the story. Two strands to the story – one of Arjan returning to his parental home in Wolverhampton from London following his father’s death, the second following the story of two sisters in the Bain’s family in 1970s Wolverhampton.
The insight into Sikh family life is fascinating – the customs and superstitions, the cultural differences highlighted when Freya’s parents meet Arjan’s parents. It’s so positive and uplifting, with lots of emotional bits along the way.
Really enjoyed it and will hunt out his first book!