Akhil Sharma’s Life of Adventure and Delight

Akhil Sharma is a magician with language, on the page and in what feels for me anyway like instantly intimate conversation. He walks into my living room and immediately he’s teaching me something about myself. I find him mesmerizing, instructive, dear. We’re talking about three years’ worth of his New Yorker stories that all grow out of the shattered boyhood he detailed in his novelized memoir Family Life. It was all about Indian strivers in Queens in the dazed 30-year aftermath of a horrific accident. Watching and coping refined Akhil Sharma’s eye for lonely people in a lonely place.

In his stories there’s a wider canvas of Indian men and women in import-export businesses and creaky arranged marriages,liars, lovers, cheats among them, in dark places cut through with blazing laugh lines. Sexual obsession feels like the thematic symptom of a nameless distress – though there is pleasure in the stories and in Akhil Sharma’s presence, too. In my house in Boston he gave us a taste from “The Well,” one of eight stories in the collection titled A Life of Adventure and Delight.

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