the good book corner

Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews

Interview with Akhil Sharma

Akhil Sharma breaks work on Book

Akhil Sharma is the author of Family Life and An Obedient Father, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award Stories. A native of Delhi, he lives in New York City and is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark.

tgbc: Tell us about your typical day.
Akhil: I wake up every morning full of fear. I calm myself down by reading the paper or talking with someone, and then I start writing. My goal is to write for five hours every day. I write using a stopwatch. If a phone call comes I pause the stopwatch. If I check my email. I do the same. At some point I go to the gym. This is an ideal day and when it occurs, I feel great satisfaction.

tgbc: Who are your book mentors?
Akhil: Many people have helped me. The list is very long and among the living there are: Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Franzen, Russell Banks, Tobias Woolf. Among the dead are the great Russian writers, Hemingway, Hardy, Cheever.

tgbc: What do you do when you are looking for inspiration, or facing a writer’s block?
Akhil: I restart and in the new beginning I find the old excitement.

tgbc: Who is your favorite character from ‘An Obedient Father’?
Akhil: Ram Karan so dominates the book that he has to be the most compelling of the characters.

tgbc: How did you come up with the title of ‘An Obedient Father’?
Akhil: My wife suggested it. It is from Lear.

tgbc: ‘Family Life’, your new book is inspired by the tragedy in your own family. Where did you draw inspiration for Ram Karan in ‘An Obedient Father’?
Akhil: From my own anxiety and guilt about having survived when my brother did not.

tgbc: What is on your reading list currently?
Akhil: Some minor Hardy. I want to read the full Canterbury Tales. I am going to reread Anna Karenina but just the Anna sections.

tgbc: Name one celebrity you want as your book fan.
Akhil: Oprah

tgbc: A favorite quote you swear by.
Akhil: Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

tgbc: What is the worst criticism you were given? And the best compliment you have ever received?
Akhil: Criticism: Nobody will read you. Why do whites want to read about Indians? Change all the names to white people names (from my mother)
Compliments: I don’t have a specific sentence that I remember, but praise from other writers has always been the most comforting to me.


About Preeti Singh

I am a bookaholic. I love stories, storytelling. I enjoy helping people structure their storytelling, and I love to share the stories I discover.

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This entry was posted on December 12, 2014 by in Interview, Interviews and tagged , , , .
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