Markandaya’s writing initially feels ponderous, almost archaic, and the 21st-century reader probably needs to acclimatise until the book grabs hold and doesn’t let go. She weaves the reality of racial politics as a lived experience, as well as themes of community, conquest, belonging and love. Character interiority and complexity are exploited to the full, fostering empathy, even when people should be despised. She dexterously handles subtly shifting points of view so that we are exposed to multiple perspectives. Cultures clash, generations are divided by gaps, there are private and political rebellions, families are ripped apart, much goodness prevails, but when immigrants are made scapegoats, innocent people suffer.