NOMINATED: Sunjeev Sahota was nominated for the Man Booker Prize
NOMINATED: Sunjeev Sahota was nominated for the Man Booker Prize

Leeds Beckett University goes book crazy

Man Booker Prize shortlisted author, Sunjeev Sahota, visited students at Leeds Beckett University on Tuesday 8th December.

Speaking to a captivated audience about writing, the deconstructing novels and how the London bombings of July 2007 inspired him to put ‘fingers to keypad’ and write his first novel, he was warmly received by a receptive audience.

The event, called (Re)Writing Yorkshire was collaborated between the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities at the University and The Leeds Library.

Sunjeev was named one of Granta’s Best of British Young Novelists in 2013 and has since become a rising star of contemporary literature.

He has written two novels: Ours Are the Streets’ and The Year of the Runaways’. The latter book earned him a shortlist nomination for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.

Both novels are set against a Yorkshire backdrop and are heavily influenced by race, radicalisation and the global issues of identity, belonging and culture.

Sunjeev said: “I was in Leeds in 2005 during the London bombings. There was something about that event that gave me a lot of pause for thought; about how the psychology would be interesting to explore through the medium of a novel.

“One of the things a novel is great for is trying to get inside the head of people that you might not otherwise think you’d be able to.”

He continued: “The idea of refugees and migrants is on people’s minds at the moment, given Syria.

“Migration is topical but it’s been topical since time began. Migration has been the story of the world. There have always been people who have wanted to move elsewhere for a better life.”

He went onto say that the Indian migrants in his latest book are “not one homogenous, brown mass”.

Dr Katy Shaw, Principal Lecturer in English Literature at Leeds Beckett University and chair at the event, was an integral figure in launching the Granta Best of Young British Novelists list worldwide. 

Dr Shaw said: “Sunjeev is an incredibly gifted author. The audience were treated to an insight into his life; from his transition from reader to writer, to him being accepted as a writer on a global scale.”

The (Re)Writing Yorkshire series, which sees academic researchers, established writers and creative practitioners examine new representations of Yorkshire in Literature, Television, Film, Music and Art, will return in 2016. 

Past events have featured Yorkshire based poets, Tara Bergin and Helen Mort, and award-winning authors A J Kirby and Richard Smyth.