Heroin addiction

Lost to addiction: Loved and Missed, by Susie Boyt, reviewed

Ruth, the narrator of Susie Boyt’s seventh novel, is both the child of a single mother and a single mother herself. Intelligent, quirky and despairingly fastidious, she has tried to bring up her adored daughter in loving orderliness, but the results have been disastrous. By 15, the beautiful, gifted Eleanor is a heroin addict, living in filth and chaos. Before long, she is pregnant with Lily; and Ruth, ‘stodgy with intentions and conventions’, decides to make off with Lily in order to save her baby granddaughter’s life. Or perhaps it is Lily who saves Ruth. ‘People didn’t speak much of the thick currents of emotion that flowed between the single

The young bride’s tale: China Room, by Sunjeev Sahota, reviewed

Sunjeev Sahota’s novels present an unvarnished image of British Asian lives. Ours Are the Streets chronicles a suicide bomber’s radicalisation, and its Booker-shortlisted successor, The Year of the Runaways, follows illegal immigrants in Sheffield — where Sahota now lives, having been raised in Derby by Punjabi-born parents. China Room, his most autobiographical work to date, mines his adolescence in deprived 1990s Chesterfield and imagines that of his great-grandmother in rural Punjab. In 1929, a 15-year-old girl is married to one of three brothers. On a remote farm, Mehar shares confined quarters with the best china and two other veiled brides —each competing to conceive a son first. Couplings take place