An Obedient Father by Akhil Sharma is an uncomfortable read.

An Obedient Father by Akhil Sharma is one of the most uncomfortable books that I’ve ever read.

(Trigger warnings for: child abuse, rape, sexual abuse).

Set in India, during the time of the assassination of Rajiv Ghandi in 1991, the story centres around a corrupt civil servant, Ram Karam. Ram is a father and grandfather, as well as a grieving widower after the death of his wife.

He is a deeply unpleasant character; here is a man who cheated on his wife with prostitutes, overindulges in food and alcohol, and raped his own daughter when she was twelve years old (and only stopped doing that after his wife caught him in the act).

His daughter grew up, married, and has a daughter of her own. But now, she is forced to live with her father after the sudden death of her husband. Imagine having to not only live with your own father who had raped you, but also to bring your young daughter into that situation?

Ram Karam is corrupt, immoral and unlikeable on so many levels, yet Sharma just about manages to scrape together some (just a little) sympathy for the character, which is quite an achievement.

Having said that, parts of this story are very hard to stomach and I very nearly gave up on it.

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