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India-born American writer wins International Dublin Literary Award

Indian-American author Akhil Sharma

Dublin, June 11 (UITV)- Indian-American author Akhil Sharma has won the International Dublin Literary Award for his autobiographical novel “Family Life”. The win comes with a cash prize of 100,000 euros, the world’s largest prize for a single novel published in English. Sharma beat 160 others from 118 cities in 43 countries.

Sharma who also won the 40,000 pound Folio Prize last year for “Family Life,” which traces the journey of the family that emigrates from Delhi to New York, where the older brother has an accident that leaves him brain-damaged and in need of 24-hour care and the other lost and virtually orphaned in a strange land.

Sharma, an assistant professor of English at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, has previously won the Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the New York Times, Notable Book of the Year. Sharma is the third American author to win the prize in its 21-year history.

“I’m much more aware of pain than I am receptive to joy. When I got the email telling me I had won, my first thought was ‘thank God, another disappointment avoided’. It hurts when you don’t get something, so I was just relieved to not have pain. Two or three days after that, I began to feel happy,” Mr. Sharma said, speaking from Dublin.

After spending almost 13 years writing the book, which he described as “a nightmare – like chewing stones, chewing gravel,” Sharma now plans to use some of his prize money to set up a scholarship in his brother’s name in India, to help young women go to school.

“Family Life” was chosen ahead of books by Man Booker prize winner Marlon James, Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson and debut novelists Mary Costello and Scholastique Mukasonga.