Book excerpt: "The Spoiled Heart" by Sunjeev Sahota



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Sunjeev Sahota, the acclaimed British author who previous novels included “Ours are the Streets” and  “The Year of the Runaways,” returns with “The Spoiled Heart” (Viking), a timely, tragic novel in which an Anglo-Indian is caught up in a quagmire of identity politics.

Read an excerpt below. 

“The Spoiled Heart” by Sunjeev Sahota

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That was when he started spotting her – Helen Fletcher – everywhere around the estate: on her porch, waiting at traffic lights, buying gas from Margot’s, though it was a full two months after Sonia supplied her name that he and Helen spoke for the first time. Late June, and he was out on an early-morning run, lacking sleep and thinking through that afternoon’s speech, when he had to detour around the delivery truck blocking the pavement outside her house. He carried on to the road’s end, the opening to the fields, but turned round at the sound of her voice, a clear bell of a sound, calm and insistent, devoid of accent. Standing under the porch at the top of her drive, the broad sky a marvelous blue slate behind her, she was asking the driver, with all due sarcasm, how he’d suggest she get the fridge inside.

‘It’s just that, Sod’s law, my hydraulic lift conked out on me yesterday.’

‘Sorry, babes,’ the delivery guy said, touching his cap to supplement the apology. ‘Brand-new guidelines,’ and he drove off, leaving the boxed fridge looking like a tall and ridiculous sentinel on the empty driveway.

She caught Nayan watching, as he hoped she would, so he felt compelled to wave and come forward, his hands flipped back on his waist as he regulated his breathing. He tapped the side of the box, his smile wide and relaxed. Whatever her reason for turning down the job, he would be the bigger man. ‘Think between us we could manage it?’

She walked towards him with firm steps, from up in her hips, eyes ahead as if certain her existence meant something. The lower down the drive she came the more the sun, already smarting his back, caught her face, flushing the hollows around her neck.

She nodded up at him. ‘The runner speaks.’

‘It’s been known.’

Sizing up the delivery, she crouched and crept her fingers under the box. ‘Get the other end and catch it from tipping.’ 

From “The Spoiled Heart” by Sunjeev Sahota, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2024 by Sunjeev Sahota.

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