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Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Lost in translation

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 17 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:893
  1. Pardeep Grewal, consultant in dual diagnosis and addiction psychiatry, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust
  1. pardeep.grewal{at}

A family memoir of mental disorder explores the way that immigrant families are treated by the health service, finds Pardeep Grewal

I have never considered myself a fan of memoirs. The genre conjures up images of decaying politicians offering a final rant or celebrities lost in their narcissism. It was something of a surprise, then, to read Sathnam Sanghera’s debut novel, a memoir of his early life in a Sikh dominated area of Wolverhampton, growing up with a mentally unwell father and sister. At first glance the book promises to be a witty, well written series of anecdotes describing the author’s remarkable social mobility and his avoidance of an arranged marriage. On closer inspection it provides a powerful insight into the way ethnic minority families cope with a diagnosis of mental disorder.

Sanghera’s father and sister developed schizophrenia when he was a child. Somehow this diagnosis was kept from him until he stumbled across the truth in his …

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