Synopses & Reviews
Akil Kumarasamy's Half Gods is a vibrant interlinked collection of stories following three generations of a Sri Lankan family on their journey from South Asia to the United States and back, braving war, living as exiles and refugees, and maintaining the love that bonds them as a family.
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.
"An act of audacity...[Akil] Kumarasamy crafts her stories with great confidence, each sentence and detail devoid of ornamentation. Her great strength is her fully rendered characters...With Half Gods, Kumarasamy has created the perfect piece of art for this moment in American history...She has created a precision experiment in interconnection and story while simultaneously evoking a sense of nostalgia for some of America’s old myths." Don Kelly, Spectrum Culture
“Kumarasamy is a shape-shifter, transitioning from the voice of a disaffected teenager watching the end of the war from afar to a lonely Angolan butcher hoping to fall in love with a kind patron. Each story connects with the others in subtle ways, offering a sense of unity between characters who often feel alone...Cruel and poetic lines...populate Kumarasamy’s writing, buttressing the indignities her creations are forced to suffer with some beauty. Even then, she leaves us with a sense that a larger world, full of possibility, exists somewhere out there.” Alana Mohamed, The Village Voice
"Like family members around a dinner table, the tales in [Half Gods] support, contradict, and argue with one another. They create a rich disorder. But the disjointedness of the portrait they form also speaks to trauma: how it can interrupt both chronology and one’s sense of self." Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
About the Author
Akil Kumarasamy is a writer from New Jersey. Her fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine, American Short Fiction, Boston Review, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, and has been a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the University of East Anglia. Half Gods is her first book