Brother by David Chariandy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Recommended Age: 15+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Literary Fiction, Canada, Racial Relations, Siblings, Grief
This is what I call a bittersweet story through and through. It’s beautiful, the relationship between the two brothers tremendously touching, and yet it’s also harrowing and frustrating. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we change the situation? What about love? What… about… love?
I wish I didn’t have to pause each time I’m picking up a Canadian title to congratulate myself for picking up a Canadian title but alas I rarely seem to give attention to non-US books. And that’s a shame because… I live in Canada. And as a Canadian resident, I am proud of this book. If it had been awful, I don’t think I would have even mentioned its Canadianness. (Yes, I know it’s not a word, Word.) But it’s not… it’s gorgeously written.
The author mentions at the end of the book that it took him a long time to write it, despite the short amount of pages, and I believe him completely. It’s a short but impactful story. There are many characters, and yet it feels as though they are each given the right amount of attention. I can’t even point out which one I liked best because while the narrator is someone I would love to get to know on a personal level, there’s also Francis who I respect, Jelly I really want to hug tight, the mother I want to care for and Aisha I am dying to have a conversation with. I feel like she has so much to teach me.
There are also, of course, characters I want to punch. But now I realize they’re not even worth the energy. Don’t even deserve me thinking about them. Bastards. Anyways, there is quite a lot to love about this book and if you’re the kind of reader who fidgets uncomfortably when you hear ‘‘literary fiction’’ (because what does that mean really??), worry not for this is a short, evenly-paced and necessary portrayal of brotherly love, racial relations, complicated grief and boundaries that sometimes need to be broken.
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