By MICHAEL CAINES
The Savoy Hotel hosted the 20th South Bank Sky Arts Awards on Sunday night; alongside the actors, comedians, musicians and other artists honoured this time round, Sunjeev Sahota received the literature award, for his well-regarded novel The Year of the Runaways. It's a notable choice on the (anomalously anonymous) judges' part. It's very much a novel of its moment, describing the lives of Indian illegal immigrants in Sheffield, including two posing as a married couple. Yet its prose is also the least enticing of the three short-list books – all of them novels, although the award in theory covers all genres – efficient but strangely plain, despite the colourful Hindi insults.
Nothing wrong with that, perhaps. But I prefer the work of Sahota's fellow short-listed novelists, Tessa Hadley and Sarah Hall. And not only because I had the pleasure of interviewing both of them last week. . . .