Thursday, December 25, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: 'Family Life'

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Parul Sehgal of The New York Times reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."

This week, a hybrid of memoir and fiction, the harrowing autobiographical novel "Family Life" by Akhil Sharma, which looks at the reverberations of a teenager's tragic accident.

When the novelist Akhil Sharma was a child, his older brother suffered profound brain damage after an accident in a swimming pool. Sharma has loosely fictionalized what happened in his new novel, some 13 years in the making.

"Family Life" was reviewed on the cover of the New York Times Book Review this weekend by Sonali Deraniyagala, author of the memoir "Wave." Deraniyagala says this book is a "riveting" portrayal of a community’s response to loss.

The book begins when the Mishras, a middle-class Indian family with two sons, aged 8 and 12, immigrate to Queens in the 1970s, settling in a one-bedroom apartment, full of plans for the future, and especially for their bright eldest son, Birju. But after Birju's accident, a cascade of tragedies come to pass. The mother seeks solace in religion and kooky faith healers, the father in drinking. The youngest son, our narrator, is conscripted into taking care of his blind, helpless, adored brother.

Deraniyagala writes that "'Family Life' is devastating as it reveals how love becomes warped and jagged and even seemingly vanishes in the midst of huge grief. But it also gives us beautiful, heart-stopping scenes where love in the Mishra family finds air and ease."

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