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Family Life by Akhil Sharma

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Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Published by Faber and Faber in 2014

Family Life is a story about the loneliness and despair of an Indian family whose American dream turns sour. Eight year old Ajay moves with his parents and brother, Birju, from Delhi to a new life in Queens, New York in 1978. Life is exciting for the two brothers as they adjust to prosperity, girls and 24-hour TV, until one hot, sultry day when everything falls apart. Birju, who seems destined for great things, suffers a freak accident which leaves him severely brain-damaged. While his father sinks into despair and the bottle and his mother restlessly seeks the help of those who claim to have healing powers, Ajay prays to a God he envisions as Superman, longing to find his place amid the ruins of his family's new life.

Told from Ajay's perspective, the story is a vivid portrait of the lives of Indian immigrants as they adapt to American ways and of the struggles of a young boy to grow within a family shattered by loss.

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

Akhil Sharma was born in Delhi, India, and moved with his family to the United States when he was eight. He lives in New York City and is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark. Family Life is the winner of the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award. The novel has been named as a New York Times Top 10 of 2014.

'Family Life is a wonderful novel about misery that is anything but miserable. Sharma entertains and moves, wrestles with narratives both grand and deeply intimate. The sobering conclusion offers no easy answers to life's pain and mysteriousness. Luckily the questions are more than enough.' James Kidd The Independent

'An extraordinary coming of age tale in the shadow of family tragedy . . . funny, painful, and deeply moving - do not miss.' The Bookseller