The Spoiled Heart by Sunjeev Sahota - review by Joseph Williams

Joseph Williams

Crash & Burn

The Spoiled Heart


Harvill Secker 336pp £18.99

Reading Sunjeev Sahota’s The Spoiled Heart is like being cornered by a bore at a party. The narrator, Sajjan, tells you he’s a writer from Chesterfield, reminds you three or four times that the pandemic stopped us all from seeing each other, then begins a long story about a family friend who was cancelled after a political scandal. If this were a party, you could perhaps shake him off (slipping out into the garden while he gives the punch bowl a supercilious stir) but, this being a novel, you’re stuck with him at your elbow, his irritating voice in your ear.

Sajjan has, like Sahota, written several novels, but his tone is all off. The words ‘behest’ and ‘nibbles’ appear in the same paragraph. On the following page, a minor character is described as having ‘natural reserves of unshowy empathy’. The next sentence offers ‘Rory and I would shake hands homie-style.’

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