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Akhil Sharma, photo by Bill Miller
Akhil Sharma


NYS Writers Institute, April 22, 2014
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading |Assembly Hall, Campus Center, UAlbany Uptown Campus

Akhil Sharma, “a supernova in the galaxy of young, talented Indian writers” (Publishers Weekly), will read from his new novel, Family Life (2014), about an Indian-American family coping with personal tragedy, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 8 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute.


Akhil Sharma,
“a supernova in the galaxy of young, talented Indian writers” (Publishers Weekly), received the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Whiting Writers’ Award for his first novel, An Obedient Father (2000). Set in New Delhi, the novel tells the story of a single mother who lives with her young daughter in a tiny apartment with her own father, a corrupt civil servant who sexually abused her throughout her childhood.  Writing in the New York Times, Richard Eder called it, “[A] cunning, dismaying and beautifully conceived portrait of a corrupt man in a corrupt society,” and said, “An Obedient Father is hard, as well as rich and enthralling.”

Sharma’s much-anticipated second novel is Family Life (2014), the story of Indian-American immigrants who are forced to cope after one of the family’s two sons experiences a dreadful accident. Excerpted in the New Yorker, the book is based on Sharma’s own family history. His elder brother Anup suffered a catastrophic brain injury after diving into a swimming pool, shortly after passing the qualifying exams to attend New York City’s competitive magnet school, the Bronx High School of Science.

Writing in the Paris Review, Loren Stein said, “With acid, deceptively artless prose and a faultless ear for dialogue, Sharma strips his characters bare from page one and dares us to love them in their nakedness. I cannot think of a more honest or unsparing novelist in our generation.” Writing in advance praise, author David Sedaris called it, “Outstanding,” and said, “Every page is alive and surprising, proof of [Sharma’s] huge and unique talent.” Novelist Edmund White said, “Family Life is a terse, devastating account of growing up as a brilliant outsider in American culture. It is a nearly perfect novel.”

In the December 18, 2013 issue of Elle magazine, Sharma wrote, “The single most important event in my life is my brother’s accident. When I was 10 and my brother 14, he dived into a swimming pool, struck his head on the pool’s bottom, and remained underwater for three minutes. When he was pulled out, he could no longer walk or talk. He could no longer roll over in his sleep.”

Born in Delhi, Sharma emigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight, and attended Princeton University, where he studied writing with Toni Morrison, Russell Banks, Joyce Carol Oates, and Paul Auster, among others. After graduation, Sharma was awarded a Stegner Fellowship in the Stanford University Creative Writing Program. He subsequently earned a degree at Harvard Law School.

Sharma’s short fiction has appeared in the Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies. His short story “Cosmopolitan” was adapted as a 2003 TV movie that was featured on the PBS series, Independent Lens.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.