Sunjeev was recently awarded the South Bank Sky Arts Awards literature prize, for his novel, The Year of the Runaways, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2015.
Speaking about his new role at Leeds Beckett, Sunjeev said: “I’m really looking forward to working with the students at Leeds Beckett, from first year students through to more experienced writers, and seeing how they develop, spending time supporting them to become even better writers than they already are.
“This role as Writer in Residence is one I’m hugely excited about as there’s something engaging and rewarding about looking at a student’s or writer’s work and helping to make it as much of itself as it can possibly be.
“My own writing grew out of my reading as I’m a keen reader and engages very directly with the world around me, the world that I see when I’m walking around the streets that I know in Sheffield and in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire. They are the places from where I get most of my impetus to write, understanding what makes that world tick through storytelling. My own past and history and what’s brought me to the point of being in England at this point in time, including my family’s background including the act of immigration, have paid a large role in my fiction to date as well.”
Sunjeev, named one of Granta’s Best of British Young Novelists in 2013 and a rising star of contemporary literature, is Leeds Beckett’s first Writer in Residence and will work with both academics and students to support both English Literature and Creative Writing courses at Leeds Beckett.
Dr Katy Shaw, Principal Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Leeds Beckett, added: “We are delighted to have Sunjeev join the team at Leeds Beckett. He is one of the rising stars of contemporary British Literature and our students and staff will benefit enormously from working with him across the next academic year.
“Both English Literature and Creative Writing are hugely successful and popular areas of study here, and Sunjeev's appointment is another sign of our continued commitment to operating at the cutting edge of our disciplines in the 21st century.”
Born of Punjabi descendants, Sunjeev grew up in Chesterfield. After finishing school, Sunjeev studied mathematics at Imperial College London before working in the marketing department of a leading insurance company. His love of literature began when he was 18 years old when, on a trip to India, he picked up a copy of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight's Children at the airport; it was the first novel he read and the catalyst to his writing career.
Since then Sunjeev has published two novels: Ours Are the Streets, which examined radicalisation among Muslim youths in Sheffield and The Year of the Runaways, which, released in 2015, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The novel explores global issues of identity, belonging and culture through the lives of three male immigrants who arrive in 21st century Sheffield.