Family Life, his autobiographical novel, is praised by judges as ‘the highest form of achievement in literature’ but the winner has some humbler aspirations: The Guardian
He has only just discovered he’s won the world’s richest award for a single novel, but Akhil Sharma already has a plan for some of his €100,000 (£78,000) winnings: a new pair of shoes.
Sharma’s Family Life, a mostly autobiographical novel that tells of how a family moves from Delhi to New York, where the older brother has an accident that leaves him brain-damaged and in need of 24-hour care, was named winner of the International Dublin literary award on Thursday. Judges, who included the novelists Ian Sansom, Juan Pablo Villalobos and Carlo Gébler, said that “closing the book, having known this mix of light and dark, you are left with the sense that while reading, you were actually at the core of human experience and what it is to be alive. This is the highest form of achievement in literature. Few manage it. This novel does. Triumphantly. Luminously. Movingly.”
The India-born American writer describes the almost 13 years it took him to write Family Life as “a nightmare – like chewing stones, chewing gravel”, said it had taken a few days for his win to sink in.