Half Gods

by Akil Kumarasamy, to be released June 5, 2018

A startlingly beautiful debut, Half Gods brings together the exiled, the disappeared, the seekers. Following the fractured origins and destines of two brothers named after demigods from the ancient epic the Mahabharata, we meet a family struggling with the reverberations of the past in their lives. These ten interlinked stories redraw the map of our world in surprising ways: following an act of violence, a baby girl is renamed after a Hindu goddess but raised as a Muslim; a lonely butcher from Angola finds solace in a family of refugees in New Jersey; a gentle entomologist, in Sri Lanka, discovers unexpected reserves of courage while searching for his missing son.

By turns heartbreaking and fiercely inventive, Half Gods 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.


“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

“Brilliant . . . A masterful combination of strong, insightful storytelling and tangential political commentary . . . The themes are as ambitious in scope as the sprawling canvas . . . [A] must-read.” ―Booklist (starred review)

“[Akil] Kumarasamy’s prose is gorgeous and assured, capable of rendering both major tragedy (war, the dissolution of a marriage, the loss of a child) and minor tragedy (a botched effort at matchmaking, a pitying Christmas invitation) with care and precision . . . A wonderful, auspicious debut.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A captivating debut. Precise, beautiful, and bold.” ―Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“Kumarasamy writes with heart, wit, and an unflinching eye about the complexities of family, war, and finding one’s home. Woven together by sentences that are at once surprising and satisfying, Half Gods spans the miles and decades that separate its characters with ease, the emotional resonance of the brothers at its core as indelible as the demigods for which they’re named.” ―Sara Novic, author of Girl at War

“These are wonderful stories, finely poised, beautifully written, and brimming with a rare wisdom. It’s a pleasure to dwell in Kumarasamy’s voice. In its shallows and swells, you’ll find the most delicate visions of the everyday as well as the sweeping tug of history.” ―Kanishk Tharoor, author of Swimmer Among the Stars

Half Gods distills the mysteries of the human soul. In this age of displacement and sorrow, these stunning stories are reminders that even in the darkest times it is possible to write―to live―with clear-eyed compassion for others.” ―Ceridwen Dovey, author of Only the Animals

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