A NovelBook - 2017
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.
From Library Staff
SCL_Justin Jan 25, 2018
This short novel is an excellent study of how people grieve. It's about a poor Trinidadian-Canadian family in Scarborough and how their lives intersect with gangs and hip-hop culture and a mother who works and works and then needs to be cared for. It's a great thoughtful story, well-told.
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Michael and his older brother Francis live in Toronto with their single mother. They are from Trinidadian decent. The story begins with a grown Michael welcoming a visting friend into their home, you can tell from the beginning that somthing is not right in the home. There are various stories relayed from the boys youth. Discussing when they used to play by the creek, a trip to the mall gone wrong, Michael going with his brother to the barber shop, fights and some abuse from their mother, the sexual awakening of Michael, two boys afraid of criminals, a one time trip to Trinidad, a failed reunion with their father, and a failed audition resulting in a brawl. There are also glimpses of the present. Michael talking with his friend Aisha, a rememberance party stopped abruptly, the injury of his mother and her hospitalization. The story comes to a close when the reader learns of Francis' death at the hands of the police. The death of her son causes the mother to have a mental break, and Michael to shut himself off from the world. The ending is quite abrupt as we dont see how the mother copes with the death and what happens to Michael.
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