The Delhi-born author’s semi-autobiographical story ‘Family Life’, described as a classic American story of a poor boy becoming rich, was up against seven other novels for the 2015 Folio Prize.
“From a shortlist of which we are enormously proud, Akhil Sharma’s lucid, compassionate, quietly funny account of one family’s life across continents and cultures, emerged as our winner,” said writer William Fiennes, chair of the judging panel said here last night.
He described ‘Family Life’ as a “masterful novel of distilled complexity; about catastrophe and survival; attachment and independence; the tension between selfishness and responsibility.”
“We loved its deceptive simplicity and rare warmth. More than a decade in the writing, this is a work of art that expands with each re-reading and a novel that will endure,” he said of the 43-year-old author.
Sharma, who is based in New York, was presented with the winner trophy by Jean-Marc Rath of the Folio Society along with a cheque for 40,000 pounds at a ceremony in London.
‘Family Life’ tells the story of an Indian family through Ajay, a young boy born in Delhi who moves with his family in their search of a better life. They end up in Queens, New York, and all seems to be going well until a family tragedy changes all of their lives dramatically.
“Family Life is already a critically acclaimed bestseller in the US. We are delighted that the Folio Prize will now help it to find many more readers, both in the UK and around the world,” said Andrew Kidd, co-founder of the Folio Prize.
The Folio Prize aims to recognise the best English-language fiction regardless of form, genre and geography. It was created as a reaction to perceived weaknesses of the Man Booker prize.
The Folio Prize, which was established last year, is open to any English-language work of fiction published in Britain in the previous year.