1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
China Room  By  cover art

China Room

By: Sunjeev Sahota
Narrated by: Indira Varma,Antonio Aakeel
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $28.35

Buy for $28.35

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2021.

A multigenerational novel of love, oppression, trauma and the pursuit of freedom, inspired in part by the author's own family history, China Room twines together the stories of a woman and a man separated by more than half a century but united by blood.

Mehar, a young bride in rural 1929 Punjab, is trying to discover the identity of her new husband. She and her sisters-in-law, married to three brothers in a single ceremony, spend their days hard at work in the family's 'china room', sequestered from contact with the men. When Mehar develops a theory as to which of them is hers, a passion is ignited that will put more than one life at risk.

Spiralling around Mehar's story is that of a young man who in 1999 travels from England to the now-deserted farm, its 'china room' locked and barred. In enforced flight from the traumas of his adolescence - his experiences of addiction, racism and estrangement from the culture of his birth - he spends a summer in painful contemplation and recovery, before finally finding the strength to return 'home'.

©2021 Sunjeev Sahota (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about China Room

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    0
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rachel Redford
  • Rachel Redford
  • 05-24-21

Can you ever escape?

This is a tightly paced, succinct novel which in only 5 hours listening combines two vitally real strands spreading across two generations of a Punjabi family.

In a village in rural Punjab in 1929, against an increasingly threatening backdrop of the Independence movement, three young girls are married to the widow Mai’s three sons to produce grandsons who will maintain the family farm. So 15 year-old Mehar finds herself incarcerated and veiled in a farm outbuilding called the China House along with her two new sisters-in-law. The brothers know which girl is his wife, but during the ‘visits’ of their men the girls don’t know which brother is her husband. Suraj knows full well he’s fallen in love with his brother’s wife, but it dawns on Mehar only slowly but fatefully. Such a doomed love cannot thrive and it is this which makes the story age-old, whilst the daily grind of the farm and kitchen work endlessly shifting buffalo excrement, scrubbing and scraping – and the community’s punishments for adultery - are all too earthly and real.

Interwoven are the recollections of a London father-of-three relating how 70 years after the tragedy of his great grandmother Mehar he had spent time in the Punjab. Whilst attempting to recover from his heroin addiction after dropping out of university in Britain he had stayed in his uncle’s own barn, the by then dilapidated China House which he knew featured in family stories about his great grandmother. Forming part of his thoughts as he tries to make sense of his life and heritage, are the sufferings of his father as a Punjabi immigrant in Britain which recall Sahota’s prize-winning second novel The Year of the Runaways reviewed on my Listener Page in 2015, as well as Sahota’s own father.

Sahota deftly handles these themes (of escape and incarceration; belonging and not belonging; the restrictions and poverty of society’s underclass..) within a story of startling reality. It feels like an intensely personal novel which strengthens its impact. Well read, it’s vivid, sober and sombre. And rather sad.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for JuliaC
  • JuliaC
  • 05-15-21

Fabulous and moving

I really enjoyed this book about what happened to a family in the Punjab many years before, and the shockwaves for their descendants years later. Brilliantly written and especially shocking about the position of women in Punjab society. Very well narrated too. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ninaminacat
  • Ninaminacat
  • 10-25-21

Compelling, but rushed at the end

Both the tales in this dual timeline novel are well narrated and quick to draw in the listener, though I feel that the earlier story of three brides for three brothers is the more compelling; from early on there is an atmosphere of foreboding in this tale, making it difficult to stop listening. The first section of the later story (signalled clearly by a different narrator) came as a surprise and actually made me want to know about the three women's lives all the more - in spite of the fact that the late 20th century timeline has its own different ways of engaging the listener. (This may have been Sunjeev Sahita's intention, since, of necessity, the characterisation of much of 1929 branch of the story is not as developed as in the other plotline.)

I enjoyed the description of life in India in both 1929 and 1999 and appreciated the common themes of a need for equality between different groups in society and the desire for individuals to chose their own partners, whether on a long or short term basis. All of this makes for a very positive listen, although I felt that the issues raised were touched on rather than explored - but perhaps a light touch, leaving the listener to ponder as much or as little as they wish, is as valid an approach as any other. However, as I approached the end of the novel, I realised that there was quite a lot to be resolved in both plotlines in a short listening time. This meant I wasn't too surprised to be confronted by two endings that (to me, at least) seemed rather rushed.
Overall 4.5 stars

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for august year
  • august year
  • 09-17-21

Another hit for Sunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev’s sensitive, accurate account of life in Punjab in the 1930- 40s is an engrossing read. A powerful matriarch and her three sons have their lives take an unexpected turn when the very tradition designed to preserve a fragile honour turns against them. The descendant of this family in the present day returns almost by accident to the place where this drama unfolded giving him meaning and purpose. It is uncomfortable reading about the illiteracy, infanticide and lack of women’s rights in the regions described which are by no means unique in the world. The powerlessness of the female is accepted by almost everyone although that is not the main theme of the novel. Sunjeev conveys these issues with subtlety and the reader is left shocked, moved and yet hopeful.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 08-05-21

Engaging, astonishing and moving

An intimate glimpse into the customs and traditions of a Punjabi family set in late 1920s India with a poignant link to a young man’s life many years later.
It will make no sense to most of us but perfect sense to those that still hold such stories of their past. Just wonderful!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Christineb
  • Christineb
  • 08-25-21

Utter tosh

I love books set in Asia learning about different cultures etc This book was such a disappointment To begin with three marriages uncertainty over the groom very lame then it jumps to present day a young man with addiction issues l couldn't see the link until it was apparent they where related Terrible storyline Poor characters that l couldn't invest in 5hrs of my life that l won't see agai

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-11-22

India at heart

This story telling is up to that of the great V S Naipaul. Engaging and educational.