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 townhouses 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 neighborhood, 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 follows.
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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
A thought provoking exploration of kinship, grief and hope in an immigrant family, set against the backdrop of the gritty realities of modern urban life. Chariandy’s beautiful prose artfully describes both scenes of joy and heart break, providing insights into the impact of prejudice and despair that alters the arc of so many people’s lives. Brother has high circulation among patrons, critical acclaim and is a library stall favourite.
David Chariandy’s deceptively brief novel is at once an elegy for a lost loved one, and exploration of the effects of systemic inequality and racial injustice and a vivid evocation of time and place. Set in Toronto’s much maligned Scarborough suburb in the late 1980s and then 10 years later, Brother is the story of a single mother and her two sons whose lives are devastated by violence. Chariandy’s writing is precise and expressive, elegantly drawing an unforgettable portrait of this family.
Brother is an elegiac coming-of-age tale with a hip hop sound track. Chariandy’s accomplished writing employs spare, precise prose to present a brutal world populated with compelling characters dealing with devastating situations pervasive in Toronto in the 1980s and still present today. He depicts critical contemporary issues in a style that combines literary merit with pulsing reality. “Brother is a poignant meditation on love, loss and humanity… With stunning lyrical writing, pitch perfect pacing, and unexpected humour, Chariandy creates a world where beauty abounds in the most unexpected places and leaves us full of music and hope”. (2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Jury)
Brother is a sparely written and exquisitely observed novel about growing up in a poor immigrant neighbourhood in Toronto. By exploring the particulars of growing up in this place, with its diminished opportunities and explicit racism, and in this loving but traumatized and fearful family, Chariandy has written a powerful and universal story about family, history, grief and guilt.
Brother is a touching tale about the relationship between two siblings. Francis and Michael are being raised by their single mother in the troubled neighbourhood of Scarborough, Toronto. Their mother is constantly on the edge of collapse and endures this state by striving hard, working day and night to keep her small family afloat in the turmoil of their new home. She wants to keep her sons safe but she cannot stop prejudices or prevent police brutality which runs rampant in the area. Chariandy tells his haunting tale through the past reflections of adult Michael, as he cares for his aging mother. His delicate prose unlocks the past, as mother and son begin to figure out a path through conflict to redeem their experience of loss and grief.