#BookReview The Spoiled Heart by Sunjeev Sahota @PenguinRandomCA #SunjeevSahota #TheSpoiledHeart #PenguinReads Title: The Spoiled Heart

Author: Sunjeev Sahota

Published by: Knopf Canada on Apr. 16, 2024

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 336

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Penguin Random House Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

A brilliant and riveting story of ambition, love, family secrets, and unintended consequences, from “bold storyteller” (The New Yorker) and two-time Booker Prize nominee Sunjeev Sahota

Nayan Olak keeps seeing Helen Fletcher around town. She’s returned with her teenage son to live in the run-down house at the end of the lane, and—though she’s strangely guarded—Nayan can’t help but be drawn to her. He hasn’t risked love since losing his young family in a terrible accident twenty years earlier.

In the wake of the tragedy, Nayan’s labor union, long a cornerstone of his community, became the center of his life: a way for him to channel his energies into making the world a better—fairer, as he sees it—place. Now, he’s decided to mount a run for the leadership. But his campaign pits him against a newcomer, Megha, who quickly proves to be a more formidable challenger than he anticipated.

As Nayan’s differences with Megha spin out of control, complicating the ideals he’s always held dear, he grows closer to Helen—and unknowingly barrels toward long-held secrets about how their pasts might be connected. Suddenly, much more is threatened than his chances of winning.

In one sense a tragedy in the classic mold, tracing one man’s seemingly inexorable fall, The Spoiled Heart is also an explosively contemporary story of how a few words or a single action—to one person careless, to another, charged—can trigger a cascade of unimaginable consequences. A vivid and multi-layered exploration of the mysteries of the heart, how community is forged and broken, and the shattering impact of secrets and assumptions alike, it is a blazing achievement from one of Britain’s foremost living writers.


Nuanced, tragic, and compelling!

The Spoiled Heart is an intriguing, heart-tugging tale set in modern-day Britain that takes you into the life of Nayan Olak, a middle-aged man of Indian descent who is struggling with the continued grief of losing his mother and son in a fire years ago, the ongoing care of a father who he despises but also loves, a run for the union general secretary position that has turned into a fiery, mudslinging affair, and a blossoming romance with a white woman who has troubles and secrets of her own.

The prose is effortless and tender. The characters are multilayered, scarred, and vulnerable. And the plot is an absorbing tale of life, loss, love, reputation, familial dynamics, class division, race, societal prejudices, and tragedy.

Overall, The Spoiled Heart is a tense, captivating, sobering tale by Sahota that reminds us that families are complicated and messy, the choices we make often have far-reaching consequences, and long-buried secrets somehow always find their way to the surface.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Sunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev Sahota is the author of three novels: China Room, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize and a finalist for the American Library Association's Carnegie Medal; The Year of the Runaways, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and was awarded a European Union Prize for Literature; and Ours are the Streets. In 2013, he was named one of Granta’s twenty Best of Young British Novelists of the decade. He lives in Sheffield, England, with his family.

Photo by GL Portrait / Alamy Stock Photo.