Family Life

Family Life

by Akhil Sharma


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Winner of the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award

"Gorgeously tender at its core…beautiful, heartstopping…Family Life really blazes." —Sonali Deraniyagala, New York Times Book Review

Hailed as a "supreme storyteller" (Philadelphia Inquirer) for his "cunning, dismaying and beautifully conceived" fiction (New York Times), Akhil Sharma is possessed of a narrative voice "as hypnotic as those found in the pages of Dostoyevsky" (The Nation). In his highly anticipated second novel, Family Life, he delivers a story of astonishing intensity and emotional precision.

We meet the Mishra family in Delhi in 1978, where eight-year-old Ajay and his older brother Birju play cricket in the streets, waiting for the day when their plane tickets will arrive and they and their mother can fly across the world and join their father in America. America to the Mishras is, indeed, everything they could have imagined and more: when automatic glass doors open before them, they feel that surely they must have been mistaken for somebody important. Pressing an elevator button and the elevator closing its doors and rising, they have a feeling of power at the fact that the elevator is obeying them. Life is extraordinary until tragedy strikes, leaving one brother severely brain-damaged and the other lost and virtually orphaned in a strange land. Ajay, the family’s younger son, prays to a God he envisions as Superman, longing to find his place amid the ruins of his family’s new life.

Heart-wrenching and darkly funny, Family Life is a universal story of a boy torn between duty and his own survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393350609
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/02/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,176,785
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Akhil Sharma is the author of Family Life, a New York Times Best Book of the Year and the winner of the International DUBLIN Literary
Award and the Folio Prize. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award Stories. A native of Delhi, he lives in New York City and teaches English at Rutgers University–Newark. 

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Family Life 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this novel will appeal mostly to those interested in reading about the experience of Indian immigrants to the US. Simple details really illuminate the story.
Juliann Cerrito More than 1 year ago
How sad! I was enthralled by this novel hoping that there would be a rainbow or silver lining but it did not occur. Perpetual solemnity but reality of a family struck by crisis. The Mishra family migrated to New York in the late 70s. Two years later there eldest son Birju has a tragic swimming pool accident and becomes a mere form of what he was. The family tries their best to cope but Dad succumbs to alcohol and Mom harbors anger and grief. They become involved in a law suit that allows them to purchase a home and bring him there to live. The family takes care of him day and night with some assistance from outsiders. The main character, Ajay, a child a the time of the accident has a doubly challenged life, that of an immigrant from India and that of a child within a family in deep crisis. Essentially he is robbed of his childhood but makes the best of it by burying himself in his schoolwork and reading for pleasure. A dedicated student, he becomes an accomplished professional. Happiness at the end but is he really happy?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is so dismaying to me that people who seem to finally get what they worked and dreamed for are ultimately unhappy
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book, quick and easy to read. The story kept me interested to the very end. The Dad in the story dealed with the situation by drinking, the Mom by keeping the hopes alive so that left the younger son to deal with things on his own and he is quite young when the story begins. Their Indian culture is very complex and interesting. .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the most honest, most natural writer