Akhil Sharma, 43, took almost 13 years to write the darkly comic account of an immigrant family’s struggles in America, and the far-reaching effects when a family member has a devastating accident. But it was all worth it when his book Family Life was announced winner of this year’s Folio Prize at an event on March 23 in London.

Writer William Fiennes, who chaired the panel of judges, described Sharma’s book as being “a masterful novel of distilled complexity” and that the judges “loved its deceptive simplicity and rare warmth.” Fiennes also said: “More than a decade in the writing, this is a work of art that expands with each re-reading and a novel that will endure.”

Currently in its second year, the Folio Prize, which comes with a prize of £40,000 (RM218,800), was introduced as an alternative to the Man Booker Prize, and is open to any English-language work of fiction published in Britain.

The prize’s co-founder Andrew McKidd praised the winning selection. “Family Life is already a critically-acclaimed bestseller in the US. We are delighted that the Folio Prize will now help it to find many more readers, both in Britain and around the world,” he adds.

Besides Sharma, the shortlist this year was made up of 10:04 by Ben Lerner, All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, Dept Of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Dust by Adhiambo Owuor, Nora Webster by Colm Toibin, and Outline by Rachel Cusk.