We are delighted to announce that Family Life by Akhil Sharma has won the 2015 Folio Literary Prize.
Akhil’s editor, Lee Brackstone, said:
“In October 1999, I returned from New York having completed an internship at Farrar Straus & Giroux, to a job at Faber as a grown-up editor, buying books and everything. In the early part of the following year I was tipped off about a debut by a writer called Akhil Sharma, by an editor at FSG. My boss had given me some great advice on acquiring: only buy the things you love. This remains my guide to this day, obvious as it may sound. An Obedient Father and its extraordinary first line – ‘I needed to force money from Father Joseph and it made me nervous’ – convinced me here was a writer of real literary gifts and the book became my first acquisition as a rookie editor at Faber and Faber.
Fifteen years later we finally get to celebrate the full blossoming of the rare talent that is Akhil Sharma. Over the course of that decade and a half I maybe read 3,000 pages of the 7,000 pages that were distilled into 220 pages to create this quiet, desperate, redemptive masterpiece. There were moments when I thought the mania of writing this second novel – so acutely personal to Akhil and his life – had become too much.
There were moments when I honestly thought to call him and say, ‘Enough is enough. This thing will destroy you.’ There were drafts I read narrated from a completely different perspective. There are scenes from this book that don’t exist in the book but in my head they do because somewhere the world of this novel exists in many different forms.
In Family Life, Akhil finally found the perfect shape for the story he has been brave enough to tell. It is a strange yet quietly vindicating experience to see a book receive an accolade like The Folio Prize and for its story to become one of plural ownership.
Everyone I know who has read this book has been touched by it. It is desperately sad and uniquely funny. God knows how far into the darkness Akhil Sharma had to reach to bring back that humour for us all to laugh, and cry, alongside him.”