Family Life by Akhil Sharma Wins The Folio Prize 2015

Akhil Sharma is tonight, Monday 23 March, announced as the winner of The Folio Prize 2015 for Family Life published by Faber. The Folio Prize is sponsored by The Folio Society, the celebrated publisher of beautiful editions of the world’s greatest books.

The Folio Prize 2015, worth £40,000, aims to recognise and celebrate the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the UK during a given year, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin. It is the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world.

Family Life, which was selected by the New York Times as one of their Top Ten Books of the Year for 2014, is Akhil Sharma’s second novel. It took 13 years to complete and publish and blurs the boundaries between memoir and fiction. Family Life is a heart-wrenching and darkly comic story of a boy torn between duty and survival. 

Announcing the winner, Chair of the Judges, William Fiennes said:

“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. Family Life is 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.”

Andrew Kidd, co-founder of The Folio Prize says of this year’s Folio Prize winner:

“In this second year of the Folio Prize, our five judges have again lived up to every expectation, selecting from a glorious shortlist a heartbreaking and funny novel whose astonishing power is achieved in constantly surprising ways. 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.”

Akhil Sharma was presented with the winner trophy by Jean-Marc Rathé, of The Folio Society, with a cheque for £40,000 at a ceremony in London tonight.

The judging panel for The Folio Prize 2015 is chaired by William Fiennes. His fellow judges are internationally acclaimed writers Rachel Cooke, Mohsin Hamid, A. M. Homes and Deborah Levy completed the judging panel, which selected the eight titles from a list of 80 books nominated by The Folio Prize Academy. These were the 80 works of fiction published in the UK in 2014 that, in the eyes of the 235 writers and critics who constitute the Academy, were the best of the year.

Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Honest, heart-wrenching and darkly comic, Akhil Sharma's Family Life is the beautifully told story of a boy torn between duty and survival.

Akhil Sharma was born in Delhi in India and emigrated to the USA in 1979. His stories have been published in the New Yorker and in Atlantic Monthly, and have been included in The Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prize Collections. His first novel, An Obedient Father, won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. He was named one of Granta's 'Best of Young American Novelists' in 2007.

Family Life will cut your heart to pieces but it will also make you rejoice. The language, the humor, the sophistication, the empathy, the insight - all signal a new kind of literature about families and the bonds with which they hold us tight. Akhil Sharma's place among the best literary novelists of his generation is likewise secure.’ Gary Shteyngart

‘In his outstanding follow up to An Obedient Father, Akhil Sharma writes the book on love, duty, family and what it means to become American. Every page is alive and surprising. Proof of his huge, unique talent.’ David Sedaris

“A huge achievement” Fiammetta Rocco, The Economist

The Folio Prize is sponsored by The Folio Society.

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