To celebrate publication of his breathtaking new novel China Room, Booker-shortlisted author Sunjeev Sahota, shares some of the books which have inspired him.
'Sunjeev Sahota's writing is the stuff of miracles' Bryan Washington
'A gorgeous, gripping read' Kamila Shamsie
Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family's 'china room', sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk.
Spiralling around Mehar's story is that of a young man who in 1999 travels from England to the now-deserted farm, its 'china room' locked and barred. In enforced flight from the traumas of his adolescence – his experiences of addiction, racism, and estrangement from the culture of his birth – he spends a summer in painful contemplation and recovery, finally gathering the strength to return home.
Sunjeev Sahota£16.98 £16.13
Edith Wharton£9.99 £9.49
So much of Wharton's work is grounded in triangulated dynamics, which are also important to how China Room works. This great love story is probably my favourite of her books.
J.L. Carr£7.99 £7.59
I've always adored this short novel about the care afforded to outsiders. What a rare and uncommon book it is.
Henry James£6.99 £6.50
The story of a clever, young woman giving everything she's got in an effort to forge her own path. Not for nothing is there a nod to Isabel Archer in my book.
Jose Saramago£9.99 £9.49
Saramago is a real favourite of mine and the idea of the double, or the doppelgänger, was there when I was first thinking of my novel; arguably, it was still there at the end, too.