An Obedient Father
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An Obedient Father

3.32 of 5 stars 3.32  ·  rating details  ·  330 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Readers opening this first novel from Akhil Sharma find themselves face to face with a wildly unappealing main character. Ram Karan is a corrupt civil servant, chubby and self-hating. "I had been Mr. Gupta's moneyman for a little less than a year and was no good." Ram has no illusions about his failings: "My panic in negotiations was so apparent that even people who were e...more
Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published (first published June 1st 2000)
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Yves Gounin
J'adore la littérature indienne.
J'aime sa richesse, sa touffeur. J'aime ses histoires compliqués, ses héros hauts en couleur..
Je n'ai pas été déçu avec ce roman d'un jeune prodige né en 1971 (comme moi) (zut, il n'est donc pas si jeune)
Comme dans les grands romans indiens, Akhil Sharma parvient à entrelacer la petite histoire avec la grande.
D'un côté l'Inde des années 90. Rajiv Gandhi est assassiné. La mainmise des Nehru sur l'Inde touche à son terme. Le parti du Congrès, omnipotent depuis l'Ind...more
This book is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's written with a light hearted, conversational tone that belies the horrors underneath. On one level, the protagonist is a corrupt bureaucrat, given to betting on the wrong horse in political races and using other people's money to extricate himself from sticky situations. Despite the fact this part of the story covers some pretty major political events and a real time of turmoil in India's history, it's not this side of the book that really shocks. It...more
If you had a hard time reading Lolita you might want to take this one off your 'to read' list. The primary theme is the impact of rampant corruption on the life of one family in Delhi, India. I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the book, its written from the point of view of a man that rapes his own daughter. Tough topic but great writing, at one the point the grime that quickly accumulates on your skin in the Delhi slum is compared to the inside of a smokers' lung. Surprised by the somewhat...more
Dawn McCarthy
Despite this book's horrific subject manner, there was a bit of genius in the writing. While the reader is inside the head of the main character, who, to put it nicely, is a vile man, the reader both loathes and somehow can feel some pity for him, once all of his sins catch up with him. While reading this, you know everything he has done is reprehensible but, because you are reading it from his perspective, you almost feel sorry for him when he gets what he pretty much deserves. Getting the read...more
can't put it down - so good
Ram Karan, a corrupt official in the Delhi Education Department, is a sad, bumbling, character tortured by a terrible secret. When the country is plunged into confusion following Rajiv Gandhi's murder, he finds himself trapped in a series of deadly political betrayals with little or no protection.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had expected to unfortunately. Because of being so busy at the end of last week, and away all weekend with a bunch of people from work - I read it slower than I mi...more
Why is this on the 1001 list? Is it because it is set in India but not of India, dealing with a difficult subject that crosses cultures and continents? Or because it does so having been written by somebody living and working in the west, so we get to hear about it? I don't know, but Rohinton Mistry ticks all the same boxes, writes a lot better and has characters that one can actually love.

I'm afraid that, in spite of Sharma's attempts to paint Karan sympathetically, I couldn't feel pity for him,...more
Sep 06, 2009 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: David Sedaris
Shelves: 2009
The write-up on the back of the edition that I read describes Sharma's protagonist as a bit of a Dostoevskyian anti-hero. This makes sense: Sharma gives us a corrupt, alcoholic, child-molesting bureaucrat as the vehicle through which most of the story is told. And—call me old fashioned—this makes the story just that much harder to get through; any time you have a protagonist so wretched, so miserable, so abhorrent that you are viscerally—even physically—angered by them... Well, good luck finishi...more
A book that literally kept me tossing and turning at night. It is so deeply sad, and, surprisingly, not solely due to the subject matter of incest: the exposure of the selfish and careless nature of ALL of the characters is the most devastating part. Despite this, the author is able to convey the characters in such a way as to deserve the reader's pity, which is an amazing feat considering the horrible thoughts and actions committed. A very complicated novel that is worth the hours lying awake.
Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed
Sometimes the writing is so powerful, so perfect, that you get a glimpse of the author's talent. Other times the story meanders. Ultimately, the overarching narrative does not feel successful but you will be haunted by the characters. Not for the faint of heart, it is hard to read this book, but also hard to look away as the characters destroy themselves and each other.
Julie Whelan
This is a dark, intense look at guilt, how families deal with immoral behavior, as well as the current graft and Machiavellian politics of Indian. The inner psychological dimensions of the story are mirrored in the political landscape where BJP and Congress are equally corrupt and just out for power and money. In many ways it is reminiscent of Crime and Punishment as follow the main character who is a corrupt political worker who sexually abused one of his daughters. This daughter, Anita, is now...more
Highly recommended by David Sedaris when I went to one of his stand-up readings, and now I am wondering why. It is quite disconcerting to read about incest and bribery and everything else bad about Indians. Yet, one can relate to every political incident mentioned. Tormenting book. The cruelty of the raped daughter when she turns into a monster is unbearable. You land up feeling sorry of the poor bastard who raped her, when all the time you were horrified at what he did to her. Situation is unbe...more

An Obedient Father tells three stories:

1. Indian history, culture and society (including a flashback to its independence from England),
2. Political corruption, and
3. Child molestation

Mr. Paran Karan is the protagonist and he is the most evil of human beings - an utterly despicable child molester of the worst kind. How evil? He molests and rapes his daughter and twenty years later molests his granddaughter! He is also a bagman for bribes and other illegal transactions as his...more
ERC Book Club, June 2004 selection

Boring ... especially regarding Indian politics which the author assumes the reader might have an inkling of what's going on. The father and daughter were both not enviable and dissatisfying. You would think the reader would identify or empathize with the daughter who was raped. Instead I felt more sad for the father and distaste for the daughter who gained nothing for herself in telling the truth. The ending was abrupt and, like the rest of book, went absol
Disturbing, sad, a bit over the top.
Ugh. I am still sick to my stomach from reading HALF of this book.
I just want to say ONE THING.
In the way that I am against gratuitious sex and violence on stage as it is jarring---
I feel that same way about written descriptions of molestation.
There is something good I am sure in this book, but when i reached the point where i disengaged and felt my soul and psyche being damaged i closed the book and put it back on the shelf.
Sheila Callahan
This is a dark, dark tale, but an important one. I've never read anything so riveting on the disturbing topic of incest. For that reason I'm marking it as a "must read" for everyone. An Obedient Father is not an easy book, but putting it aside is akin to keeping one's head in the sand about the pervasiveness and everyday nature of sexual abuse.
Hmmm. Not sure what to say about this book. I wanted to read it but the subject matter-incest-was very hard to get through.

It takes place in Delhi and I know a lot of the places he wrote about...and some of the politics. The ending dragged and seemed wrong for the book.

I wonder why Sharma chose to write this story.
Kathy Chung
Reviewed at : Mama Kucing Meow : An Obedient Father by Akhil Sharma

Not really my cup of tea. The beginning was good. I can figure out what was happening but nearing the ending, the book nearly made me crazy. No "Pun" intended.
This is a difficult book to read. The main character is pretty detestable and so many incidents in the stpry make you want to scream out loud. But it is effective in highighting life - particularly that of a young poor girl in New Delhi - and the strength of human spirit.
I bought 'An Obedient Father' in a book sale because it is set in India, but it is no 'God of Small things' and left me feeling grubby. It tells the story of a corrupt Indian civil servant with a penchant for incest and sexual abuse.

I would not recommend it.
A gruelling but compelling read. Somehow a corrupt, petty paedophile becomes a character rounded enough to earn your sympathy. The characterisation is acutely percetive of the mechanisms of family dysfunction but the view of human nature is almost unremittingly grim.
This was a hard book to read, as it has incest (in quite a bit of detail). The main characters were at times so hurt and selfish, which was difficult to deal with, but it was an exceptional read in other parts though.
Josh Bearman
This book is a very strange combination of beautiful prose describing horrible things. Not for the squeamish or overly sensitive. No intense violence, but tons of psychological and familial baggage.
Fascinating glimpse into Indian business culture and family culture. Also an unwavering look at child abuse and cultural response. At times brutal and hard to continue with, but mesmerizing.
Akhil Sharma is an author currently living in NJ.This is a story about a corrupt officer.The story begins with the set up of his life with his widowed daughter and his little grand daughter.
A troubling story that centers around sexual abuse. Set in India, the story revolves around a civil servant, his daughter, and granddaughter as they cope with living together. Very good writing.
I read this one after hearing Dave Sedaris recommend it at one of his readings. Wasn't at ALL Dave Sedaris-esque, but enjoyable still, if not a little disturbing and upsetting (but in a good way).
I should have abandoned it, but trudged through it much to my dismay. I found I just read it to hurry up and finish it and move on to a better book.
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Akhil Sharma is the author of An Obedient Fathers, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry Award Stories. A native of Delhi, he lives in New York City.
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