On June 9 novelist Akhil Sharma, who graduated from Princeton University in 1992, won the International DUBLIN Literary Award for his novel Family Life. The novel tells the story of eight-year-old Ajay, whose family move from Delhi to America in 1978. Life in America is extraordinary until tragedy strikes, leaving one brother severely brain-damaged and the other lost and virtually orphaned in a strange land. Family Life was named one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times Book Review and New York Magazine.
Organized and sponsored by Dublin City Council, the DUBLIN Literary award has been given out since 1994 and is the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English. Public libraries in cities around the globe submit nominations for the award, which comes with a cash prize of 100,000 euros — about $114,000.
Suffering and the struggle to ameliorate suffering are not unknown in fiction but “Family Life” pulls off the extraordinary feat of showing them in their correct alignment. 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 judging panel’s citation of “Family Life”
In addition to Family Life, Sharma is the author of the Pen/Hemingway Prize-winning novel Obedient Father (2000), which has been published in numerous languages and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His award-winning short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award Stories. In 2007, he was included on Granta’s list of Best Young American novelists. He currently teaches English at Rutgers University-Newark.