Jimmy Noone, young, troubled and homeless, is searching for Betwa, a friend he found and lost on the busy streets of a strange city. His search leads him to Shifnal Road where he encounters a collection of people who have settled in the area from places across the world; they live side by side yet hardly seem to notice each other. Jimmy becomes a catalyst for their lives colliding, and as journeys to the street and to the city are retraced, so too are their stories of lost dreams, unrivalled friendships, stifling grief and profound love.
Should We Fall Behind is about the passing of time and the weave of joy and suffering, love and loss which shape human life along the way. It’s about people who have somehow become invisible and how their stories make them visible again.
Praise for Should We Fall Behind:
The Guardian ‘Sharon Duggal’s measured, intensely humane second novel… is a spacious, melancholy work, its sorrowful yet hopeful storylines an elegy to time’s passing.’
Prima Magazine‘A gloriously astute and tender story.’
TLS/Times Literary Supplement ‘Duggal’s writing is heartfelt but never mawkish, and she treats her subjects and their circumstances without condescension or irony… Duggal affirms that there is such a thing as society, in which there are communities with shared values and interests. She does so with passion and integrity but without tub-thumping, and her generous, humane novel is all the stronger for it.’
Preti Taneja, award-winning author,We That Are Young ‘Duggal writes about the devastation of vulnerable lives with all the hard-eyed clarity of William Trevor, and as much literary heart as Rohinton Mistry – SHOULD WE FALL BEHIND deeply inhabits its world but wears its craft so lightly – it is beautifully observed, suffused with inner-city melancholy and shot through with the hope that can only come from random encounters, the small acts of generosity that help strangers to find affinity with each other even in the worst of time.’
The Morning Star ‘The concluding chapters are impeccably paced and, as befits a writer of Duggal’s calibre and sensitivity, offer some, but not total, closure and reconciliation.’
The Yorkshire Post ‘Should We Fall Behind humanises the faceless and gives voice to those muted by circumstance. For this, it is important. It isalso a rich novel – harsh and tender and full… ordinary lives are made beautiful by Duggal; in her language and by their truth. We are left moved, and reminded that this is a book ultimately about us.’
Louder Than War ‘Duggal’s skill as a storyteller is to interweave the daily trials of her characters with credible backstories that explain who they are… It is far harder to write about real people and keep the reader’s attention, but Duggal manages it with laser sharp precision