Akhil Sharma

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Akhil Sharma
Born (1971-07-22) 22 July 1971 (age 48)
Delhi, India
OccupationNovelist, Professor
Alma materPrinceton University
Stanford University
Notable worksAn Obedient Father (2000)
Family Life (2014)
Notable awardsHemingway Foundation/PEN Award (2001)
Folio Prize (2015)
International Dublin Literary Award (2016)

Akhil Sharma (born July 22, 1971) is an Indian-American author and professor of creative writing. His first published novel An Obedient Father won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. His second, Family Life, won the 2015 Folio Prize and 2016 International Dublin Literary Award.

Early life[edit]

Born in Delhi, India, he immigrated to the United States when he was eight,[1] and grew up in Edison, New Jersey, where he graduated from J.P. Stevens High School. Sharma described experiencing racism in school and in the city: "people cursing at us in the street, and being spat at at school." [2] Sharma's teenage brother was in a pool accident, that left him in a thirty-year coma, an incident that forms the basis of Sharma's semi-autobiographical novel, Family Life.[3] Sharma studied at Princeton University, where he earned his B.A. in public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School. While there, he also studied under a succession of notable writers, including Russell Banks, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Auster, John McPhee, and Tony Kushner. He then won a Stegner Fellowship to the writing program at Stanford, where he won two O. Henry Awards (1995 and 1997).[4] He then attempted to become a screenwriter, but, disappointed with his fortunes, left to attend Harvard Law School.

Sharma went on to become an assistant professor in the creative writing MFA program at Rutgers University-Newark.[5]


Sharma has published stories in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Quarterly, Fiction, the Best American Short Stories anthology, and the O. Henry Award Winners anthology. His short story "Cosmopolitan" was anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 1998,[6] and was also made into a 2003 film of the same name, which has appeared on the PBS series Independent Lens.[7]

Sharma's first novel was An Obedient Father for which he won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.[5] Sharma's second novel, Family Life was published by W. W. Norton & Company in the U.S. and Faber and Faber in the U.K. in April 2014. The New York Times described the semi-autobiographical novel as "deeply unnerving and gorgeously tender at its core.".[8] David Sedaris noted that "[e]very page is alive and surprising, proof of [Sharma’s] huge, unique talent." Sharma wrote about the 13 years it took to write Family Life in an essay on The New Yorker's website.[9] Family Life won the 2015 Folio Prize for fiction and the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award.[10][11]

He shares office space with the writers John Wray, Isaac Fitzgerald, and Alice Sola Kim[12]. He and Wray had previously been part of an informal writing group that includes Gary Shteyngart, Suketu Mehta, and Ray Isle. [13]

In July, 2017, Norton published Sharma's collection of short stories, A Life of Adventure and Delight.



  • Sharma, Akhil (2000). An obedient father.
  • — (2014). Family life.
Short stories
Title Year First published Reprinted/collected Notes
Mother and son 2007 Sharma, Akhil (Spring 2007). "Mother and son". Granta. 97. Granta 97 theme: 'Best of Young American Novelists 2'
We didn't like him 2013 Sharma, Akhil (June 3, 2013). "We didn't like him". The New Yorker. 89 (16): 56–61.
A Life of Adventure and Delight 2016 Sharma, Akhil (May 16, 2016). "A Life of Adventure and Delight." The New Yorker.


  • Sharma, Akhil (November 4, 2013). "Butter". Take Out. The New Yorker. 89 (35): 55.

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ Maughan, Philip (15 May 2014). "The son also rises: Family Life by Akhil Sharma". New Statesman. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  2. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (2014-04-26). "Akhil Sharma: 'I feel as if I've shattered my youth on this book'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  3. ^ "Akhil Sharma on Writing the Darker Side of Indian Life | Literary Hub". lithub.com. Retrieved 2018-05-12.
  4. ^ "The O. Henry Prize Stories". O. Henry Award. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Profile: Akhil Sharma". Rutgers University–Newark. Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  6. ^ Keillor, Garrison (ed). The Best American Short Stories 1998. Houghton Mifflin, 1998. pp. 48–69.
  7. ^ "COSMOPOLITAN". Independent Lens. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  8. ^ "The Repercussions" by Sonali Deraniyagala, The New York Times Book Review, p. 1, April 6, 2014
  9. ^ "A Novel Like a Rocket", The New Yorker, April 7, 2014.
  10. ^ Mark Brown, Akhil Sharma wins Folio prize for fiction, The Guardian, 23 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Akhil Sharma's Family Life wins International Dublin Literary Award". BBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  12. ^ Franklin, Ruth. "How Novelist John Wray Made His Brooklyn Brownstone Into a Writers' Clubhouse". Vulture. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  13. ^ "And the Last Word Goes to..." NYMag.com. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  14. ^ Profile at The Whiting Foundation
  15. ^ "[1] The Ten Best Books of 2014," New York Magazine, December 10, 2014.
  16. ^ "The Ten Best Books of 2014," The New York Times, December 4, 2014.
  17. ^ "DSC Prize 2016 Finalists". 26 November 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.