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Sikhism If You Don't Know Me By Now: A Memoir Of Love, Secrets And Lies In Wolverhampton


Jun 1, 2004
Buy This Book at SPN Store : Book Review : If You Don't Know Me by Now: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton. http://astore.amazon.co.uk/sikhphilnetw-21/detail/0670916706/202-2215136-7964619


Beneath the surface of his glamorous London life - of fast cars, celebrities and high-flying journalism - Sathnam Sanghera has a past which quietly beggars belief. For all intents and purposes, he was raised as a Punjabi villager, living in a closed community of arranged marriages and superstitious rituals - only in dingy, seventies Wolverhampton. Then at 24, quite out of the blue, he discovered that his father and sister were both schizophrenic, and that his warm and loving family had a horrifying history of domestic violence.
Equipped with breathtaking courage and a glorious sense of humour, he embarks on a journey into his family's past - from his father's harsh life in rural Punjab and the terrifying years of his parents' marriage, to his obsession with George Michael and a detailed investigation of how to tie the perfect top-knot - trying to make sense of a life lived in the dark. But at its end, in one of the most moving encounters in the book, he must make a revelation of his own when he explains to his beloved mother that he will never accept the arranged marriage she has set her heart on for him.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #5737 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-03-06
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 336 pages

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Coe
Told with enormous compassion and the most unexpected dry wit ... What a painful and joyous voyage of discovery!
Andrea Ashworth, author of bestselling memoir Once in a House on Fire
As charming as it is wrenching, as funny as it is haunting, this book is wonderfully unlike any other

The Times
Gripping and entertaining, horrifying and tender. So delightful, insightful and charming

Customer Reviews

You must read this book

This is sheer poetry. He writes in the Times on economics and business but I am now going to read him more carefully because he really knows what matters. About love, pain, confrontation, embarassment, illness, compassion. This is a brilliantly open and unblinking book. Read it and, just maybe, become a better human being.

A lone voice

I found this one of the hardest books to finish that i have EVER read. The author has used two important and compelling issues to basically write a book about himself growing up in Wolverhampton - why would ANYONE find this interesting! Its Zadie Smith and White Teeth all over again.

I must admit it did enlighten me to certain issues re schizophrenia which i had not considered but this was contained within pages of boring dross about Sathnam, Sathnam and more Sathnam, Wolverhampton, George Michael and the Man on the Horse!! Who cares! And by the time i had reached the 'climax' of the book i was too bored to even finish reading the letter to his mum which was actually a really important point of the story.

Understandably many Sikh readers growing up in Britain will identify with the author, as will many Sikhs growing up in Britain in Wolverhampton! Sanghera obviously had a story to tell but i think he indulged himself with this one. Big time.

And I am surprised that someone whose writing i admire, Andrea Ashworth, wrote such a complimentary review. Am i missing something here? Obviously. And not just a lone voice - my partner felt the same!

Great read.

So I wasn't the only one who couldn't put the book down after I'd started. The book brought back so many memories from my childhood that I didn't actually find it sad but heart warming and nostalgic. I have to take my hat off to you Sathnam, the way you exposed your own family "closet skeletons" is awe inspiring. You had the courage to do the thing many Sikhs/Panjabis dread the most.


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Last edited:


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Aman ji,

You know, this review rings bells in my memory of a year back on the forum. I saw a post from someone who straight out said he was deeply depressed and was thinking of suicide. I gave him my private email and asked him to write to me. He did, I responded, and then I never heard from him again. The gist of his message was that no one could help him. That stirred some research -- which in turn led to more research into Sikhi's understanding of severe mental illness. I found that even in the so-called first-world there lingers the idea that a respectable Sikh family would never seek medical and psychological treatment for a family member. I am left with the impression that in some communities around the world mental illness is gravely stigmatized and there is little or no support for getting the kind of professional care that could make a difference. Schizophrenia can now be managed very effectively with new drugs, called a-typicals, which shorten hospitalization from months and years, to only one or two weeks, and shorter visits later on to adjust drug levels.

Now all this is coming back to mind. And I still do not have answers to my questions. Maybe I need to read this book to get a better insight.
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