Akil Kumarasamy

Award-winning Author

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  •  Our Strange World: On Writing Surreal/Dystopian Literature
  • Writing about Violence and War
  • Short Story Collections like Mixtapes
  • Mapping New Geographies
  • An Evening with Akil Kumarasamy

Biography

“Akil Kumarasamy’s prose is gorgeous and assured, capable of rendering both major tragedy and minor tragedy with care and precision.” —Publishers Weekly

“Kumarasamy writes with heart, wit, and an unflinching eye about the complexities of family, war, and finding one’s home.” —Sara Novic

“Akil Kumarasamy is a singular talent.” —Cathy Park Hong

Akil Kumarasamy is the author of the collection Half Gods (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, awarded the Bard Fiction Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection. The linked story collection reveals with sharp clarity the ways that parents, children, and friends act as unknowing mirrors to each other, revealing in their all-too human weaknesses, hopes, and sorrows a connection to the divine.

Most recently, she is the author of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea (Macmillan, 2022). The story follows a young woman in the wake of her mother’s death who is forced to question her own moral compass and sense of goodness. How involved are we in the suffering of others? What does real compassion look like? How do you make a better world?

About the novel, Dana Dunham said: “Set in a future of eye scans, carbon credits and advanced AI, Akil Kumarasamy’s new novel nonetheless feels surprisingly like home—even as it tests the boundaries of self and story. Its protagonist, grieving the recent death of her mother, throws herself into translating a little-known Tamil manuscript about 17 medical students who strove to achieve radical compassion during the Sri Lankan Civil War (dating to 1983–2009). This and her other portals to shared experience—the omnipresent television, a new drug that transfers memories—dissolve the barriers of being into a dizzying alchemy of past and present, love and truth, death and memory.”

Kumarasamy’s work has appeared in Harper’s MagazineAmerican Short FictionBOMB, and other publications. She has received fellowships from the University of East Anglia, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

She is an assistant professor in the Rutgers University-Newark MFA program. She lives in New York City.

 

Short Bio

Akil Kumarasamy is the author of the linked story collection Half Gods, which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, awarded the Bard Fiction Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection. She is also the author of the novel Meet Us by the Roaring Sea. Her work has appeared in Harper’s MagazineAmerican Short FictionBOMB, and other publications. She has received fellowships from the University of East Anglia, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She is an assistant professor in the Rutgers University-Newark MFA program. She lives in New York City.

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