The Boy with the Topknot
Of late, Asian literature in English is gaining a lot of popularity in the Western markets, and this book "The Boy with the Topknot" is surely one of them. I must frankly admit that I had not heard about the author before, and when I did some research on him, I learnt that he is fresh talent emerging in the UK.
Born in 1976 overseas to Indian parents, he previously worked as a chief feature writer with The Financial Times, and currently works for The Times. As an award winning columnist, he is a Cambridge graduate. Living in London, Sathnam Sanghera has penned his very first book as his own memoirs of growing up in Wolverhampton.
As a young Sikh boy, Sathnam Sanghera vividly describes his experiences while growing up here in the midst of George Michael tapes, Dallas on TV, the occasional Bounty Bar, tartan smocks, and his job at the local sewing factory. In the midst of all this, he describes how he learnt to brace with the challenge of tying his top knot.
In this book, Sathnam Sanghera also warmly and humorously describes the search for his family's roots in his late 20's and 30's. The description in the book about his father's and elder sister's sufferings from schizophrenia is poignant and touching. He also vividly describes his double life in London dating white women, while pretend to his Punjabi parents that he would abide by Sikh tenets and go in for a perfectly arranged marriage.
Despite describing some of his family's harrowing experiences, Sathnam has made good use of wit and humour to make his biography appear light hearted. The chapter in which Sathnam describes about cutting his hair in his early teens is distressing and humorous in equal measures.
This book first appeared as Sathnam's autobiography 'If You Don't Know Me By Now' and was short listed for the Costa 2008 Biography Award 2008. In its present avatar, it is good to know that the book has won 'The Mind Book of the Year Award'.