Indian-American author Akhil Sharma has won the International Dublin Literary Award for his autobiographical novel Family Life. The prize money, €100,000, is the world’s largest for any single published English novel. Sharma beat 150 others from 43 countries to win the award. The panel of judges included authors Ian Sansom, Juan Pablo Villalobos and Carlo Gébler.
Born in Delhi, he moved to the United States when he was eight, the award’s website said. His winning book narrates the story of eight-year-old Ajay who moves from Delhi to the US in 1978 and how he struggles to survive within a family after a tragic incident leaves him “practically orphaned”.
The judges said that “closing the book, having known this mix of light and dark, you are left with the sense that while reading, you were actually at the core of human experience and what it is to be alive. This is the highest form of achievement in literature. Few manage it. This novel does. Triumphantly. Luminously. Movingly.”
The diverse shortlist of 10 authors included Man Booker winner Marlon James and Pulitzer prize winner Marilynne Robinson, as well as debut novelists from Rwanda and Ireland.