The long-awaited second novel from David Chariandy, whose debut, Soucouyant, was nominated for nearly every major literary prize in Canada and published internationally.
An intensely beautiful, searingly powerful, tightly constructed novel, Brother explores questions of masculinity, family, race, and identity as they are played out in a Scarborough housing complex during the sweltering heat and simmering violence of the summer of 1991.
With shimmering prose and mesmerizing precision, David Chariandy takes us inside the lives of Michael and Francis. They are the sons of Trinidadian immigrants, their father has disappeared and their mother works double, sometimes triple shifts so her boys might fulfill the elusive promise of their adopted home.
Coming of age in The Park, a cluster of town houses and leaning concrete towers in the disparaged outskirts of a sprawling city, Michael and Francis battle against the careless prejudices and low expectations that confront them as young men of black and brown ancestry -- teachers stream them into general classes; shopkeepers see them only as thieves; and strangers quicken their pace when the brothers are behind them. Always Michael and Francis escape into the cool air of the Rouge Valley, a scar of green wilderness that cuts through their neighbourhood, where they are free to imagine better lives for themselves.
Propelled by the pulsing beats and styles of hip hop, Francis, the older of the two brothers, dreams of a future in music. Michael's dreams are of Aisha, the smartest girl in their high school whose own eyes are firmly set on a life elsewhere. But the bright hopes of all three are violently, irrevocably thwarted by a tragic shooting, and the police crackdown and suffocating suspicion that follow.
With devastating emotional force David Chariandy, a unique and exciting voice in Canadian literature, crafts a heartbreaking and timely story about the profound love that exists between brothers and the senseless loss of lives cut short with the shot of a gun.
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Winner of the 2018 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
Longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize
A Globe and Mail Best Book
A Quill & Quire Best Book of 2017
A Toronto Star Top 10 Book of 2017
Praise for Brother:
“Brother is a bittersweet homage to the danger of hope and the awkwardness of grief.” —Catherine Hernandez, Quill & Quire
“Chariandy's second novel, Brother . . . is a supremely moving and exquisitely crafted portrait of his hometown. . . . It is a celebration and a reckoning, a study of community and of family and of the ways each relies on the other, and of the power of art to build and the ability of those in power to destroy. It is also an act of literary cartography, an attempt to place Scarborough on the CanLit map, once and for all, and an effort by Chariandy to show ‘the importance of knowing that your world – in its beauty, in its ugliness, in its heroism, in its cowardice – [can] also be worthy of representation.’” —Mark Medley, Globe and Mail
“[Brother is] a beautiful piece of literature—a coming of age story, a meditation on family, a novel of place—but that place is the same much maligned suburb Chariandy grew up in, and the younger brother’s life in a racist milieu is central to novel’s power.”—Brian Bethune, Maclean’s Magazine
“With Brother, Chariandy has written a book worth reading through an entire library to find.”—Hannah Sung, Globe and Mail
“Brother is an exquisite novel, crafted by a writer as talented and precise as Junot Díaz and Dinaw Mengestu. It has a beating heart and a sharp tongue. It is elegant, vital, indubitably dope – the most moving book I’ve read in a year.” —The Guardian
"Brother diffracts the spare light toward feeling again, after tragedy. Chariandy deftly assembles that which has come apart in the life of a Black family; their privacies assaulted, their desires unmet. Such a timbrous novel. Such a tender work." —Dionne Brand
"A brillaint, powerful elegy from a living brother to a lost one, yet pulsing with rhythm, and beating with life." —Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings
"Mesmerizing. Poetic. Achingly soulful. Brother is a pitch-perfect song of masculinity and tenderness, and of the ties of family and community." —Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal
"I love this novel. Riveting, composed, charged with feeling, Brother surrounds us with music and aspiration, fidelity and beauty." —Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing