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Folio winner proves less is more.
on 30 March 2015
This slender novel not only hits home - it has also hit a home run. Akhil Sharma's tragi-comedy has recently been awarded the Folio prize for excellence in writing. It has been fourteen years since Akhil Sharma's debut, An Obedient Father. The answer as to why it has taken so long for his second book to reach us is perhaps contained in its semi-autobiographical pages.
When Ajay's accountant father sends airline tickets for his wife and two sons to join him in America, their whole Delhi neighbourhood comes out to celebrate the family's good fortune. Ajay is eight and can't quite believe this is really happening. As many an immigrant experience story has shown, the Mishras' new life in 'the land of opportunity' is a challenging one for them to navigate. But it is a devastating accident that changes everything more fundamentally for the Mishra family - and for Sharma's readers.
This is a deeply moving, funny, tragic, absorbing and brave account with an engagingly honest narrator. The author compels the reader to examine some of life's darker questions by leaving much unsaid and demonstrates here that less really can be more. A novel of 'distilled complexity' and 'deceptive simplicity' said the Folio judges. I agree.