Disability, Illness and Cultural Belonging in Akhil Sharma’s Family Life

  • Iwona Filipczak Uniwersytet Zielonogórski


The aim of this article is to demonstrate how the discourses of disability/illness and immigration are intertwined in Akhil Sharma’s novel Family Life (2014). I argue that the characters’ negotiation of cultural identities occurs at the intersection of their race, ethnicity, class, and immigrant and ability status, the  examination of which reveals a unique experience of oppression of an Indian immigrant family. Recognizing the narrative’s resemblance to the “chaos narrative,” I explore in particular the narrator’s sense of devastation and the narrative’s resistance to the cultural expectation of the discourse of triumph. As the study deals with questions of cultural belonging and is sensitive to the sociohistorical context of Indian immigration to the US, an attempt is undertaken to show some aspects of how culture influences the perception of disability and illness.

Author Biography

Iwona Filipczak, Uniwersytet Zielonogórski
Iwona Filipczak teaches American literature at the Institute of Modern Languages, University of Zielona Góra (Poland). She holds a PhD degree from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Poland). Her scholarly interests include John Updike’s fiction, the American short story and South Asian US fiction, particularly questions relating to the identity and experience of the Indian diaspora.


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