Book Review: Brother by David Chariandy

BrotherAbout the Book

Michael and Francis are the bright, ambitious sons of Trinidadian immigrants. Coming of age in The Park, a cluster of houses and towers in the disparaged outskirts of a sprawling city, the brothers battle against the careless prejudices and low expectations that confront them on a daily basis.  While Francis dreams of a future in music, Michael’s dreams are of Aisha, the smartest girl in their school, whose eyes are firmly set on a life elsewhere. But the bright hopes of all three are violently, irrevocably thwarted by a tragic event.

Beautifully written and extraordinarily powerful, Brother is a novel of deep humanity which provides a profound insight into love, family, opportunity and grief.

Format: ebook, hardcover (192 pp.)        Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing
Published in the UK: 8th March 2018      Genre: Literary Fiction

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*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Brother on Goodreads


My Review

Brother is an emotional read, not least because, from the outset, the reader has a sense of inevitability that promising lives will be unfulfilled or end tragically.  Danger seems always close at hand in the area where the family live. ‘Always, there were stories on TV and in the papers of gangs, killings in bad neighbourhoods, predators roaming close.’    The relationship between the two brothers is beautifully rendered, with Francis acting as protector and guide to his younger brother.  There is also a strong sense of the bonds of loyalty to your family, your friends – your ‘group’, as it were.  Ultimately the latter will lead to tragedy.

The book evokes a believable picture of the immigrant experience in Canada (and I suspect many other places).  It’s a world of poor housing and low level, insecure jobs where multiple jobs may be needed to make ends meet.   However, there is comfort to be found in cultural reminders (food, music, etc.) and in community support in times of crisis.  ‘To this very day, trays of food will sometimes appear at our front door.  A pilau with okra, a stew chicken unmistakably Caribbean.’

Like many others, Michael’s and Francis’s mother dreams of a better future for her children, fighting prejudice, social inequality and low expectations.  ‘All around us in the Park were mothers who had journeyed far beyond what they knew, who took day courses and worked nights, who dreamed of raising children who might just have a little more than they did, children who might reward sacrifice and redeem a past….Fears were banished by the scents from simmering pots, denigration countered by a freshly laundered tablecloth.  History beaten back by the provision of clothes and yearly school supplies.  “Examples” were raised.’

Brother – sadly – tells a story that is probably being played out in many of our communities right now.   It’s a relatively short book but one that packs an emotional punch.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of NetGalley and publishers, Bloomsbury, in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Gritty, insightful, compelling

Try something similar…Cuz by Danielle Allen (click here to read my review)

David ChariandyAbout the Author

David Chariandy is a Canadian writer and one of the co-founders of Commodore Books.

His debut novel Soucouyant was nominated for ten literary prizes and awards, including the 2009 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (longlisted), the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize (longlisted), the 2007 Governor General’s Award for Fiction (finalist), the 2007 ForeWord Book of the Year Award for literary fiction from an independent press (“gold” winner), the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book of Canada and the Caribbean (shortlisted), the 2008 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize of the British Columbia Book Prizes (shortlisted), the 2008 City of Toronto Book Award (shortlisted), the 2008 “One Book, One Vancouver” of the Vancouver Public Library (shortlisted), the 2008 Relit Award for best novel from a Canadian independent press (shortlisted), and the 2007 in Canada First Novel Award (shortlisted).

Chariandy has a MA from Carleton and a PhD from York University. He lives in Vancouver and teaches in the department of English at Simon Fraser University.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Brother by David Chariandy

  1. This was a very good book – and it definitely packs that emotional punch! I read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give last year and I feel like this is kind of the adult version of it. Such a short book, but so heartbreaking and raw.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My something similar recommendation, Cuz, is a non-fiction book about the author’s cousin that is unfortunately a real life occurrence of something very like that depicted in Brother.


  2. I just checked Amazon and it won’t be available to me in the US on Kindle until July, but you can bet your sweet bippy I pre-ordered it! Thanks for the review. I’m looking up Cuz next.

    Liked by 1 person

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