Born in Delhi, India, author Akhil Sharma emigrated to the US in 1979, when he was eight years old. His debut novel, An Obedient Father, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award in 2001, and his short fiction has been published in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly and The Best American Short Stories anthology. An adaptation of his short story "Cosmopolitan" was made into a film of the same name in 2003, starring Roshan Seth. Sharma was named one of Granta's best young American novelists in 2007. His highly autobiographical second novel, Family Life, came out last week.
Books: Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore
Lorrie Moore hasn't published a collection of short stories in 15 years and the stories in Bark are really wonderful. You can see it's the same writer as her previous work, but it's also very different. There's an element of the fantastic, a magical realism. Unlike some of her earlier work, the frame of her stories is sometimes not as clear. Her characters take on a size that is slightly larger than in a more controlled story. When you don't have a scale of reference things can look bigger or smaller ... that sense of disorientation is very exciting. All the stories in Bark are united by concerns about connection and feelings of failure or doubt, but not in an obvious way. I love short stories, and Lorrie Moore is a great writer.
Museum: Rubin Museum of Art
This museum is devoted to Himalayan art. They have a show right now called Bodies in Balance, which is really about medicine and Buddhism. It's fantastic to visit this exhibition because you see that these poor fellows didn't understand the biology of the world, or of illness, and medicine had an element of beauty in it in a way that it doesn't now. You can sit and listen to healing chants – it's the idea that the beauty of calling out to God for intervention would have an effect. I find it very interesting and very moving. The museum is in Chelsea, New York, and I go there about once a month.
Music: Rob Fusari
This is a musician who I have been tracking a little bit. His real name is Rob Fusari – he used to date Lady Gaga and he produced her first two albums. Now he's renamed himself 8-Bit, which is a technical term for a particular error that occurs when music is being generated, and also performs as [part of] Cary Nokey, dresses in strange outfits and is surrounded by half-naked women. It's very weird performance art. I like some of his music more than other pieces, but I find the performance itself fascinating. He's viewed as an intellectual version of kitsch. He's attempting to recreate the music scene of the 1970s, but that isn't a music scene that he knows and he's not representing it accurately. It's wonderful to see, very powerful stuff.
TV: House Hunters International
This is part of my goofiness – I like this television show about people leaving the US or Canada, moving abroad and trying to rent or buy an apartment. During the 12 and a half years that I was writing my book, I would watch it whenever I could. The very idea that I could move elsewhere, that I could have another life, was incredibly soothing to me. I thought about moving to Italy – but I would have moved anywhere, I just wanted to get the hell out of my life. I think we all wish to escape ourselves and that's why shows like House Hunters International are addictive. The other reason is that it makes that escape appear simple and gives the idea that if you move abroad you can be a different person – whereas, actually, wherever you go, there you are.
City: Jaipur, India
This is one of the main tourist sites of Rajasthan. The hotel to stay at is the Rambagh Palace (left) – it's spectacular in a way that almost nothing else is. Unlike many palaces in India, it was built with a unifying intelligence and in response to Indian tradition. It's an expensive hotel, but if you can't stay there it's definitely worth going and having a drink there. There's also a wonderful jeweller in Jaipur – most people go to Gem Palace, but that's the crappy one. The one to go to is Royal Gems & Arts; that's where my wife gets her jewellery. She has very expensive taste but very good taste. It's situated in a very old haveli, which is like a mansion for the aristocracy, so when you go in it feels very much like you've gone back 150 years. It's like Ali Baba's cave.
Event: Composers in the Kitchen
The most interesting thing I've been to in the past couple of months is a party. Jennifer Oz LeRoy (left) hosts Composers in the Kitchen in her apartment once a month. She's from a family of restaurateurs, who owned Tavern on the Green and the Russian Tea Room, and her grandfather, Mervyn LeRoy, produced The Wizard of Oz. She invites various famous chefs to cook and has musicians performing. I tried to stay away from the really famous people because I get embarrassed. I did meet a magician – I think he was randomly invited the same way that I was. It was fantastic; it was like being at Peggy Guggenheim's villa in Venice.