Akhil Sharma Wins 2015 Folio Prize for Novel Family Life

Posted on March 25, 2015

Cover of Family Life by Akhil Sharma

American novelist Akhil Sharma has won the 2015 Folio Prize for his novel Family Life (Faber). The Folio Prize is open to books published in the U.K. in the English language, regardless of the nationality of the author. The award carries a cash prize of 40,000 pounds sterling.

Family Life is the semi-autobiographical story of Mr. Sharma's family who immigrated from India to the United States in the 1970s. The family's dreams of success for both their sons were shattered when the younger brother suffers brain damage after a diving accident and must have round the clock care for the rest of his life. The book was named as one of The New York Times' Top Ten Books of the Year for 2014.

It took Mr. Sharma 13 years to finish the book, which is his second novel. All the facts in the book are true, but he has said in interviews that he didn't want to make it a memoir because then he couldn't use certain literary devices that were necessary to make the story flow well and to keep the reader interested. Although the subject matter is sad at its core, the book is funny and full of joy. Family Life is Akhil Sharma’s second novel. It took 13 years to complete and get published.

Mr. Sharma's first novel, An Obedient Father, won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. His stories have appeared in Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker and the O.Henry Prize Collections.

Photo: W.W. Norton