Charlotte’s novel ‘Almost English’ is her fourth and was long listed for the Man Booker Prize. Sathnam is the author of the Costa prize nominated biography ‘The Boy With the Top Knot. ‘Marriage Material’ is his first novel.
The pairing of these two authors was a perfect match. They were both engaging and knowledgeable of one another’s work with obvious mutual respect which led to some lively discussion.
Each author read from the early pages of their novels. There is nothing like hearing an author read their own stories for bringing those stories to life and lifting characters off the page. Both Charlotte and Sathnam did this beautifully. Charlotte was immediately funny and charismatic cleverly illustrating one of her characters with her impersonation of a Hungarian Jewish accent based on her late Grandmother.
There are a number of thematic similarities in these novels, primarily the theme of being a ‘non British’ living in Britain and how that feels. Charlotte is from a Jewish family and Satham is from a Sikh family and much of the conversation that followed their readings centred on the many humouros similarities and differences of these traditions.
Despite being a very British Anglo Saxon with no exotic heritage (that I am aware of) I could immediately relate to the idea of culture and what holds cultures and communities together.
I grew up in a close knit environment in a very small village although moved away at 19. Only when you move away can you truly appreciate home with all its strange ways and foibles. Moving away enables you to love home for what it is rather than wanting to change it. Like both the authors I hold the place of my childhood in great affection.
I left the event with a rosy glow and a warm feeling that wasn’t just from the complimentary glass of white wine on an empty stomach
The event was organised by Daunt Books in London (my favourite London bookshops). Daunt Books always have an interesting timetable of author events, so if you are able, do check them out.
Inevitably I came away with a copy of both books. My dilemma now, which to read first…….
Happy Bank Holiday Reading