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I would never get a tattoo, says author Akhil Sharma

Akhil Sharma would like to take Joyce, Shakespeare and Chekhov out for dinner since they all had a fantastic sense of humour, he thinks

brunch Updated: Jul 23, 2016 20:24 IST
Akhil Sharma,Chekhov,Shakespeare
Indian writer Akhil Sharma’s novel

Birthday: July 22

Sun sign: Cancer-Leo cusp

Place of birth: Delhi, India

School/College: Princeton University, Stanford University, Harvard Law School

High point of your life: Finishing my second novel, Family Life. It was like a long illness ending.

Low point of your life: The accident that brain damaged my brother

Currently I am: Writing a short story collection


Your first thought when you heard that Family Life had won the International Dublin Literary Award last month...

Thank God another disappointment avoided.

The first thing you ever wrote was...

An incomplete story about a submarine captain with a magical pearl. I was five or six when I wrote it.

Who are the writers you love?

Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Books you like to re-read.

Because I teach, I re-read all the time. I especially enjoy re-reading Tolstoy.

What are you reading at present?

A history of the Congo. King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild.

What is your typical day like when you are working on a book?

Get up, drink coffee, avoid work, start writing, get depressed, nap, wake and start writing again.

Word/s or phrases you think are over used and should be banned.

Luminous, lapidary, seminal.

Your advice for aspiring writers...

Read a lot.

If you could take three writers – living or dead – out to dinner who would they be and why?

Anton Chekhov, William Shakespeare, James Joyce. I think they all had a fantastic sense of humour.

A superpower you wish you had?

Immortality. The world is wonderful and I don’t want to leave it.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Becoming a full-time novelist.

What makes your day?

Reading a scene I have written which is good.

One rumour you’d like to start about yourself?

He looks like a movie star.

What is your view on the physical books vs the e-reader debate?

I love handling printed books.

If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be or what would it say?

I would never get a tattoo. I am part of the generation that sees tattoos as belonging to villagers.

What’s the biggest surprise you’ve given your wife?

The announcement that my second novel Family Life was done.

Which social networking app do you use often and one that you are yet to get the hang of?

I avoid all social media. I know too many people and would prefer to know fewer.

If you could rewrite a classic, which book would it be and what would you change about it?

The only thing I would change about the books I love is change the author’s name to my own.

Which fictional city would you like to live in?

All cities are fictional in that all cities are made by how we see them. New York is the greatest of these in that it has been imagined by so many extraordinary artists.

Your family moved to America when you were just eight. Do you visit India often?

Every other year.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?


One thing you’d like to change about the world...



My favourites

Book : War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Opening lines in literature : “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Gadget : My modem; it lets me see the world.

Bookshop: The Strand in New York City

From HT Brunch, July 24, 2016

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First Published: Jul 24, 2016 20:17 IST