A Black Country writer’s debut novel about his Asian upbringing has been short-listed for a literary prize.
Sathnam Sanghera’s first book If You Don’t Know Me By Now: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton is one of four novels vying for the biography accolade at the Costa Book Awards.
The Wolverhampton-born author, a journalist in London, said he was overjoyed.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” the 32-year-old said. “I remember when my favourite book won this prize, so I’m really flattered my first novel has been shortlisted.”
The biography joins Sathnam at 24, when he makes the discovery his father has been schizophrenic almost all his adult life. This knowledge sets the author on a journey into his family’s past, from his father’s harsh life in rural Punjab, to his parents’ early years in England.
It also follows his happy memories of childhood until the age of 28, when Sathnam is encouraged by his parents to have an arranged marriage.
Despite digging into his family’s past, Sathnam has had nothing but praise from relatives.
Sathnam added: “I showed the novel to all the family before it was published. I had to get their approval. My brother was particularly pleased because everytime I mentioned him I said he was handsome. My sister also contributed to the book.”
Sathnam decided to write the biography after being persuaded by his publisher.
“She asked me if I wanted to write a book. I responded by telling her I’d rather have my hands chopped off. But after much persuasion I agreed to write about my family life. That also included how I’d coped with the Indian concept of arranged marriages. I was introduced to about 40 girls but after a while this just became too much.
“A lot of people can identify with what I went through and that includes those from all religious background.”
Sathnam will have to wait until January to find out if he has won the prize.