By Akil Kumarasamy
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 5, 2018
Passing through countries and generations, Akil Kumarasamy’s Half-Gods is a vibrant interlinked collection following the unspooling threads of nationality, religion, and love. Through two brothers named after demigods from the ancient epic the Mahabharata, we explore the messy lines of their fractured origins, a place where the mythic and the mundane intersect. In Calcutta, a baby girl is renamed after a Hindu goddess but is raised as a Muslim. During a summer trip to Lake George, a young Sikh boy begins to speak to his dead aunt who was killed in the 1984 massacres in Delhi, and a family of refugees in New Jersey mourns the bloody end of the Sri Lankan civil war. Diverging across time, each of these ten stories reveals with prescient clarity how the past reverberates in unexpected ways, with parents, children, and friends acting as unknowing mirrors, reflecting weaknesses, hopes, grief, the human, and the divine.
Written with inventiveness and unflinching compassion, Half-Gods brings together the exiled, the displaced, and the multiplicity of lives characters carry with them as they struggle to find understanding and forgiveness, ultimately carving a home within themselves.
About the Author
Akil Kumarasamy is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, where she received a Meijer postgraduate fellowship, the Henfield Prize, and the Frederick Busch Prize. She was a 2013–2014 Charles Pick South Asian fiction fellow at the University of East Anglia. Her fiction has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Boston Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere.