Akhil Sharma || Family Life

Just imagine you have left India to go and live in the United States of America with your parents and older brother. All is going swell and then your brother dives into a pool, bumps his head, remains under water for three minutes and ends up with severe brain damage. Your mother dedicates the rest of her life to taking care of your brother, money problems dictate your parents’ marriage and your father – who had managed reasonably well in his new country up until that moment – starts drinking. You yourself spend your life trying to get as good as possible results in school and hating / loving your brother. Despite everything you manage to get accepted into Princeton, land yourself a smashing job in which you earn more than enough money to aid your parents and brother financially and of course, you end up with the perfect Indian wife. Family Life could easily have ended up a tearjerker and potential Hollywood hit (which it still could become in the wrong hands) if it were not for Sharma writing in a subdued and almost detached way that borders irony at several points. What to think of all the Indians for instance who claim to be true Americans but still asked to be blessed by Ajay’s mother and brain-damaged brother? Or the Indians who turn a blind eye to the drinking problem of Ajay’s father, desert the family when the secret becomes public and come flocking in when Ajay is accepted into Princeton.  I loved the scenes in which Ajay talks about his desire to become a writer. Through studying Hemingway he discovers his love for writing, and the possibility to transform his personal family problems into short stories. One of those short stories ends up his ticket into Princeton. Sharma’s subtlety is demonstrated well when Ajay’s girl friend hears about his father’s alcoholism. In a community in which children talk well of their parents only she whispers to him ‘I do not like my father’. This brave remark hits home. I loved Family Life. It is a subtle jewel that utterly convinces.

Family Life


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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