Sathnam Sanghera was born to Punjabi parents in the West Midlands in 1976, attended Wolverhampton Grammar School and graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge with a first class degree in English Language and Literature in 1998. Before becoming a writer he (among other things) worked at a burger chain, a hospital laundry, a market research firm, a sewing factory and a literacy project in New York.
Between 1998 and 2006 he was at The Financial Times, where he worked (variously) as a news reporter in the UK and the US, specialised in writing about the media industries, worked across the paper as Chief Feature Writer, and wrote an award-winning weekly business column. Sathnam joined The Times as a columnist and feature writer in 2007 and has presented a number of radio documentaries for the BBC.
Sathnam’s first book, The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. It is being adapted for TV by Kudos and Parti Productions, to air on the BBC in the autumn of 2017.
His novel, Marriage Material, has been shortlisted for a 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award and a 2013 Costa Book Award, been longlisted for the 2014 Desmond Elliot Prize, picked by The Sunday Times, The Observer and Metro as one of the novels of 2013, cited as one of the Guardian Readers’ Books of the Year in 2014, and is being developed as a multi-part TV drama by Kudos.
He has won numerous prizes for his journalism, including the accolade of Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2002, Article of the Year in the 2005 Management Today Writing Awards, Newspaper Feature of the Year in the 2005 Workworld Media Awards, HR Journalist of the Year in the 2006 and 2009 Watson Wyatt Awards for Excellence and Media Commentator of the Year in the 2015 Comment Awards.
He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for services to journalism by The University of Wolverhampton in September 2009 and a President’s Medal by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2010. In 2016 he was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, while writer Jonathan Coe named him one of “The Men of Next 25 years” in GQ magazine in 2013 saying that “whether he’s writing autobiography or fiction, Sathnam is busy carving out his own literary niche – in the multicultural British Midlands – which he explores with incredible grace, generosity and humour”.
He has written an introduction to a Vintage Classics edition of The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett. The Boy With The Topknot, was originally published by Penguin in hardback as If You Don’t Know Me By Now. Marriage Material is published in the USA by Europa Editions. He is trustee and board chair for Creative Access, a charity which helps find internships in the creative industries for talented young people from under-represented backgrounds. He lives in London.