An Obedient Father (Paperback)

An Obedient Father By Akhil Sharma Cover Image

An Obedient Father (Paperback)


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Revised and featuring a new foreword by the author, this uncompromising novel returns, more powerful than ever: "A portrait of a country ravaged by vendetta and graft, its public spaces loud with the complaints of religious bigots and its private spaces cradling unspeakable pain." (Hilary Mantel, New York Review of Books)

An Obedient Father introduced one of the most admired voices in contemporary fiction. Set in Delhi in the 1990s, it tells the story of an inept bureaucrat enmired in corruption, and of the daughter who alone knows the true depth of his crimes.

Decried in India for its frank treatment of child abuse, the novel was widely praised elsewhere for its compassion, and for a plot that mingled the domestic with the political, tragedy with farce. Yet, as Akhil Sharma writes in his foreword to this new edition, he was haunted by what he considered shortcomings within the book: almost twenty years later, he returned to face them. Here is the result, a leaner, surer version with even greater power.
Akhil Sharma grew up in Delhi and in Edison, New Jersey. His first novel, An Obedient Father, won the 2001 PEN/Hemingway Award. His second novel, Family Life, received the International Dublin Literary Award and the Folio Prize. His stories, collected in A Life of Adventure and Delight, have appeared in the New Yorker and in Best American Short Stories. He lives and teaches in Durham, North Carolina. 

Product Details ISBN: 9781946022387
ISBN-10: 1946022381
Publisher: McNally Editions
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English
“Something white-rhino rare in the history of literature: [Sharma has] revised and radically rewritten a novel, his first, An Obedient Father, one he published 22 years earlier . . . Sharma approached each page of the new version with extraordinary vigor and care, and there is scarcely a paragraph that hasn’t been improved . . . The sentences, already pure and unfussy, have been purged of any show. What is left is a closer feeling of closeness to his characters — to ugly, sorrowing, tender, stalwart, ruined, unredeemable people, failing at their lives and yet trying, still, to live them.”
— Wyatt Mason

“Sharma depicts a country that could have sprung from a mind poised somewhere between Dostoevsky’s and Gogol’s . . . The book is actually quite funny to begin with . . . As the book goes on, though, you pick up on the particularly unpleasant way Karam manages to extort money; also on the fact that corruption is an unstoppable process, no more preventable than the weather. . . . I doubt I have seen a more audacious yet plausible portrayal of a vividly unsympathetic character . . . Quite astonishingly, Sharma manages to make us squeeze out some sympathy for his anti-hero . . . Sharma’s genius in this novel is how he makes the personal and political reflect on each other.”
— Nicholas Lezard

“The first chapter of An Obedient Father blasts off the locks and splinters the wood . . . This is an uncompromising novel, a portrait of a country ravaged by vendetta and graft, its public spaces loud with the complaints of religious bigots and its private spaces cradling unspeakable pain.”
— Hilary Mantel

“A supernova in the galaxy of young, talented Indian writers, Sharma debuts with a bold and shocking novel that casts a mesmerizing spell . . . Sharma's depiction of a society riddled with graft, violent religious prejudice, male chauvinism and bigoted cultural attitudes is a cautionary tale about what happens to the individual spirit when poverty, superstition, racial tension and general hopelessness are exacerbated by the absence of judicial morality. This caustic yet darkly comic story resonates powerfully, as the reader comes to sympathize with fallible human beings trapped in circumstances that corrupt the soul."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Rich and enthralling . . . Mr. Sharma’s novel weaves the national into the personal without a trace of the didactic. What is more astonishing is his success in joining the amiably picaresque aspects of the corruption—India’s and Ram’s—with the ghastly evil of its underside . . . Stunning dramatically, psychologically, and in terms of the constraints on Indian women.”
— Richard Eder

“A great novel.”
— Jonathan Franzen

An Obedient Father poses a serious challenge to a reviewer who is tempted to take refuge in the easiest, moralizing dismissal of this unusual novel . . . the maddening narrative voice is as darkly hypnotic as those found in the pages of Dostoevsky . . . An Obedient Father is perhaps the novel that, some might say, Arundhati Roy had wanted to write when she wrote The God of Small Things. It is certainly the novel that Raj Kamal Jha came close to writing when in The Blue Bedspread he plumbed the dark ambiguities of abuse and incest. Sharma’s novel is part of a brilliant coming of age in Indian fiction.”
— Amitava Kumar