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Akhil Sharma’s novel ‘Family Life’ wins the Folio Prize

Sharma is the second winner of the £40,000 prize.

AB Wire

Akhil Sharma breaks work on BookNEW YORK: The former investment banker Akhil Sharma’s novel ‘Family Life’ continues to create an indelible impact on readers and judges alike. The semi-autobiographical novel, based on the author’s experience growing up in New Delhi and then life as it unravels in New Jersey after his family emigrated here, has won the prestigious Folio Prize.

The folio Prize is often seen as a competitors to the Man Booker Prize, but its winners are seen more as pure literary fiction writers than the more populist Booker, which also goes for readability, according to The Independent which reported on Sharma winning the prize, which comes with £40,000.

Read the review of Family Life: #/2014/04/30/akhil-sharmas-ode-tragedy-family-life/

The inaugural Folio Prize last year was won by George Saunders for his book Tenth of December.

Sharma, who is an Indian American, described the 13-year process of writing the book as being “like chewing stones”, to the Independent.

The author, who is currently writing a collection of short stories, bemoaned the time the novel took to write: “I’m glad the book exists, I just wish I hadn’t been the guy who wrote it.”

Sharma, 43, continued:  “I started writing this book when I was 30.  I really feel I’ve shattered my youth.”

Much of the book, which is about an Indian family’s move to America, is autobiographical, including an incident in a swimming pool which left his brother with severe brain injuries.

“When I got the prize my first response was to feel enormous shame because my first response was that I had received too much luck,” he said. “My poor brother received no luck … I was glad to have it but don’t know if I deserved it.”

Chair of the judges, William Fiennes, said Family Life was “deceptively simple in its writing and emotionally rich, incredibly moving and funny in a surprising way. It touches on big, big themes to do with catastrophe and survival and family life, sibling attachment.”

Sharma was named one of Granta’s “Best of Young American Novelists” in 2007 and his first novel, An Obedient Father, won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.

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