A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma

Akhil Sharma's new collection captures the complexities and contradictions of emotional life

Book Review by Galen O'Hanlon | 07 Sep 2017
  • A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma
Book title: A Life of Adventure and Delight
Author: Akhil Sharma

Straddling India and the US, this collection of stories explores difficult relationships: sons and lovers, the first days after an arranged wedding, the few moments of deep love in a life of drudgery and repulsion. In a few details, Akhil Sharma captures the complexities and contradictions of emotional life: of feeling multiple things at once, of trying to keep it all locked in. So an Indian man finds that a relationship with his neighbour turns out very differently to the article in Cosmopolitan that he’s read; a young woman finds that married life is strangely disappointing; a boy feels only relief and disgust when his alcoholic mother is sent home to India to be murdered.  

Sharma’s prose style is simple, quiet, understated. There is life in the small details: the hurt and shame of the sight of two bin bags left out in the rain on the drive, full of a dead mother’s clothes, collecting little puddles of water in the creases of the black plastic. Something deeper is happening in all of these stories, but it is left to the reader to work out what that might be. At times he’s very funny – on sex and love, or the difficulty of getting on in life – and then he’s emotionally devastating, slicing right to the inner loneliness of life.

Out now, published by Faber & Faber, RRP £12.99