Having lost his mother at a young age, Sanjay de Silva lives in Colombo under the thumb of a controlling father. When his father is diagnosed with cancer, he feels the ground shift under his feet, the balance of power realigning. Though it is something he has dreamed of all his life, he is uneasy when it happens. Learning that he is entitled to live in England, thanks to his English mother, he moves to London.
It is 1980, the start of the glorious Thatcher years, when every girl looks like princess Diana but not every boy looks like Prince Charles. He meets and falls in love with a fellow Sri Lankan, Janine, who is old enough to be his mother and infamous in the acid-tongued Sri Lankan community.
This is the story of an Asian builder in south London. But at its heart, The Unmarriageable Man is about grief: how each of us copes in our inimitable way with the hidden mysteries of family and the loss of loved ones. Because, as Sanjay is about to find out, grief is only the transmutation of love, of the very same chemical composition-liquid, undistllled-the one inevitably turning into the other, like ice to water.