Author: Akhil Sharma
Ajay, eight years old, spends his afternoons playing cricket in the streets of Delhi with his brother Birju, four years older. They are about to leave for shiny new life in America. Ajay anticipates, breathlessly, a world of jet-packs and chewing-gum. This promised land of impossible riches and dazzling new technology is also a land that views Ajay with suspicion and hostility; one where he must rely on his big brother to tackle classroom bullies. Birju, confident, popular, is the repository of the family’s hopes, and he spends every waking minute studying for the exams that will mean entry to the Bronx High School of Science, and reflected glory for them all.
When a terrible accident makes a mockery of that dream, the family splinters. The boys’ mother restlessly seeks the help of pundits from the temple, while their father retreats into silent despair – and the bottle. Now Ajay must find the strength of character to navigate this brave new American world, and the sorrows at home, on his own terms. By turns blackly funny, touching, raw and devastating, Family Life is a vivid and wrenching portrait of sibling relationships and the impact of tragedy on one family from a boy’s eye view.