A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma review – beautiful, sad short stories

Hapless, hopeful men abound in these intricate tales from the Folio prize-winning author of Family Life

These beautiful, funny, intelligent short stories are told with such apparent simplicity. That’s Akhil Sharma’s style, honed in his two novels: An Obedient Father and the Folio prize-winning Family Life, his semi-autobiographical story of a family emigrating from India to America and then devastated by a dreadful accident, when their elder son hits his head in a swimming pool (the accident appears again in one of these stories, “Surrounded by Sleep”). Sharma’s short, declarative sentences, avoiding taking metaphorical flight, never feel mannered, or like a Carveresque moody disavowal of the possibility of saying anything. The simplicity is Sharma’s effort to get past all the temptations of falsity, of false style and ready-made ideas. His writing shines its clean light, never mercilessly or voyeuristically, on these characters winding round and round inside the muddled ...