Sharma’s novel "Family Life" has won the
2015 Folio Prize, which will be presented Monday night
in London. The prize, worth close to $60,000, is given
to a work of fiction written in English from anywhere in
the world that is published in Britain during the given
the winner, William Fiennes, chair of the judging
committee, said, "From a shortlist of which we are
enormously proud, Akhil Sharma’s lucid, compassionate,
quietly funny account of one family’s life across
continents and cultures, emerged as our winner. ‘Family
Life’ is a masterful novel of distilled complexity:
about catastrophe and survival; attachment and
independence; the tension between selfishness and
responsibility. We loved its deceptive simplicity and
rare warmth. More than a decade in the writing, this is
a work of art that expands with each re-reading and a
novel that will endure."
books on the shortlist were "Outline" by
Rachel Cusk of Britain; two books by Americans,
"10:04" by Ben Lerner and "Dept. of
Speculation" by Jenny Offill; Kenyan writer Yvonne
Adhiambo Owuor’s novel, "Dust"; "How to
Be Both" by Scottish writer Ali Smith; "All My
Puny Sorrows" by Canadian author Miriam Toews; and
"Nora Webster" by Colm Tóibín of Ireland.
was born in India and raised in America; he’s an
assistant professor at Rutgers-Newark in New Jersey.
"Family Life" draws on Sharma’s experience
of immigrating to the U.S. when he was a boy.
the novel took 12 1/2 years, Sharma told the Guardian
when it was published. "I can’t believe how bad
that time was. I was such a different person when I
began writing it that I feel as if I’ve shattered my
youth on this book... Family Life is definitely an
immigrant novel, and one of its subjects is the Indian
community in America of which I am tremendously grateful
to be a part."