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.
About the Author
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.
"The sentences, already pure and unfussy, have been purged of any show. What is left is a closer feeling of closeness to [Sharma's] characters—to ugly, sorrowing, tender, stalwart, ruined, unredeemable people, failing at their lives and yet trying, still, to live them."
— Wyatt Mason
“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
“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