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Verve People
February 03, 2015

Storytellers of the year: Akhil Sharma

Text by Simone Louis

Verve presents a list of storytellers who made an impact with their creative offerings

Akhil Sharma 
Author, Family Life
At first glance, the story of the Mishras’ journey from Delhi to the United States may remind one of the Eapens in Mira Jacob’s novel, but Family Life quickly reveals so much more than a reader would anticipate. After writing 7,000 pages over twelve and a half years, Akhil Sharma has managed to create an overwhelming impact with a narrative based on – but not a memoir of – his own experience. Honoured as one of the Ten Best Books of 2014 by the New York Times Book Review, the novel introduces us to Ajay Sharma, his brother Birju and their parents in 1970s Delhi. The family soon moves to America in 1979, settling into an apartment in Queens, but barely two years later their hopes are crushed, when Birju suffers profound brain damage following an accident at a swimming pool. The boy is left blind and unable to walk or talk again.  And, with this Akhil Sharma gives us an intoxicatingly dark yet droll insight into the alarming damage that envelops the Mishra family. There are heartbreakingly beautiful moments; but, the book also reveals how love can become distorted in the midst of misery. Tender and perturbing, the story empowers its reader to absorb the palpable heart and soul that Sharma has painstakingly put into it.

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