Brother by David ChariandyBrother by David Chariandy


byDavid Chariandy

Hardcover | September 26, 2017

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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.

DAVID CHARIANDY grew up in Toronto and lives and teaches in Vancouver. His debut novel, Soucouyant, received stunning reviews and nominations from eleven literary awards juries, including a Governor General's Literary Award shortlisting, a Gold Independent Publisher Award for Best Novel, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Brothe...
Title:BrotherFormat:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 8.3 × 5.6 × 0.7 inPublished:September 26, 2017Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0771022905

ISBN - 13:9780771022906


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Canadian Minority Reality This is a literary take on being a minority teen and living in a large city (in this case Toronto) in a minority community. The first half took me a little while to get into. Once I hit the halfway mark it suddenly seemed like I had been with these characters all along. I'm not sure what triggered this change. All I know is that once it happened it was like magic. Difficult Reminder I think sometimes Canadians (especially Caucasians) like to believe that conditions aren't as bad here as they are in the United States for minority groups. David Chariandy certainly reminds Canadians that that isn't true. It's difficult for me to accept and realize that some conditions and situations are so awful in my country for minorities. It's also frustrating and infuriating to think that anyone might be singled out or spoken to like some of the characters in Brother in my own Canadian city (Calgary). I was especially upset by the scenes that depict the minority Mothers being accosted or pushed out of a grocery store. How is it that we can't allow people to buy groceries in peace?! Nourishment is a fundamental need to exist! At points I wanted to go online or to the top of a rooftop and tell all these minority women that I'm sorry on behalf of all the white people that treat them poorly. As a woman I think the moments in which the women were pushed around and chose to be silent or quietly accept the awful things being said or done were the hardest. I know why those women chose to react the way they do and it's out of fear and a desire to not 'cause a scene' or diffuse the situation with silence. This is a frustrating reality that many women live on a daily basis and I wish it didn't need to be that way. Reminder to Myself There is a second part to my frustration, Brother reminded me to be cautious of how I appear to react to people when I take public transit, walk on the sidewalk or otherwise am out in public. Am I intentionally scorning some people without realizing it? Do I have an unconscious reaction to cross the street or change my route because of who is on the street in front of me? While I may be admiring someone's unique (and gorgeous) scarf or clothing, could they be misinterpreting my interest in their traditional clothing? I want to stop this in myself. Especially as I've recently been taking public transit to and from work (into Calgary downtown core) everyday. I cannot hide, and would not want to, that I am a white girl with a decent job. This is obvious based on my outward appearance. Just the same as a black woman cannot hide herself. Thinking about this obvious appearance and what it may mean to others has made me more conscious of my actions or facial expressions. It has made me smile, nod or otherwise try to appear pleasant to more people (even if I've had a bad day). White I may not be able to change anything at least I know (or hope) I didn't make it any worse for anyone. Relationships The main focus of this book, besides prejudice and racism, is definitely the dynamic family relationships that exist. The title is well chosen. Brother is all about our lead characters older brother at the end of the day. Chariandy has made me hope that those in positions of power or that are looked up to (which is essentially everyone in some instance) realize how much their actions and choice can affect the younger people around them. Brother is all about how the older brother appears to the younger. I think it's too easy to forget that we are always being watched by younger generations. Whether that person is a child, teen or adult. Our decisions ultimately mean something to everyone around us. I for one hope that I am setting a good precedent for those that may look up to me. Especially when I think about my teenage nieces and nephew. I am usually conscious that I am influencing my toddler nieces because they are so young; but I wonder if over the years I ever made the same connection when it came to my older nieces and nephew. I'm now reminding myself that it's never too late to think harder about my decisions and the message they my send. If I want others to be morale and good people then I must ensure I am doing everything I can to be one myself. Overall This is certainly a story that any English teacher could read a lot into. It's relevant to the violence and constant prejudice that exists in today's society; and a good reminder that Canada is not necessarily any better than any other country (especially the USA). Maybe we have fewer guns (and subsequently less violent deaths than the USA) but that doesn't mean we aren't just as awful to minority groups in other ways or aren't creating situations that lead to similar violence or discriminatory acts. Making people feel safe needs to become more of a focus. We need to convince both children, teens and adults that they don't need to be the biggest bully to be safe. And everyone needs to truly think about the reality of society and living in Canada; instead of making ourselves believe it's better "just because". I thank Chariandy for writing and sharing this story. I presume some of it is based on things he saw in his own childhood or has heard about in Toronto. There is an obvious truth to the words in Brother and we could all benefit from reading them and reflecting on them as they relate to our everyday lives. Remember we are all just people trying to get by in any way we can. Ours and others bad decisions are usually because of circumstance, lack of education or understanding. Everyone could benefit from a little more compassion towards one another. We are all just trying to exist and survive in the climate and circumstances we have been put into. Brother is an excellent reminder of this. The realistic setting, dialogue and situations from Brother happen everyday and we should all try to be more aware of our role in each interaction in our own communities.
Date published: 2018-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Canadian Book. This book talks about the realities of some of Canadas big cities. Violence, gangs and injustices were a part of and are still apart of many peoples lives. Then and now. This book is highly recommended.
Date published: 2018-07-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good An emotional light read that gives you glimpses of the 70s to 90s.
Date published: 2018-05-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Read Interesting book albeit amity me sad at times. It's a good quick read.
Date published: 2018-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Raw, riveting, real Based on a real neighborhood in an eastern corner of Scarborough in the 80s and 90s when some gangs created fear for those living there. It also about how older brother Francis protects his younger brother and the tireless attempt by their Trinidadian mother to raise them to be better than the environment around them. It also about how young people wanting to do ordinary things have to deal with racism and prejudice. Chariandy is an excellent writer. The book is short because it is so clearly written. I felt sad and frustrated by the injustices they all faced. I also enjoyed the moments of fun and humour throughout. Intensely moving book.
Date published: 2018-04-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good I really enjoyed this book. It is a good portrayal of the life of black immigrants to Toronto in the 70's and 80's. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good read I felt this was a very heartwarming story. And being from Toronto/Scarborough it was easy to picture the life that was within the storyline.
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Emotional story This is a very emotional and well-written story on a very important topic. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Moving Story Very good story, very moving.
Date published: 2017-12-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A moving family story "Brother" tells the story of a Trinidadian immigrant mother raising her two sons in a Scarborough, Ontario housing project. The relationship of the brothers as children and teens, and their interactions with others in the neighbourhood, are at the heart of the book. The book provides a good portrait of the lives of this family in the 1980's and 1990's, when people of colour faced many challenges. The book, while quite short, is insightful and moving.
Date published: 2017-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Poignant, moving David Chariandy's first novel Soucouyant, 'was nominated for nearly every major literary prize in Canada and published internationally.' His second novel, Brother is recently released and it too is racking up accolades. Brother is the first reading of this author for me - and I was blown away.... 1991 Scarborough, Ontario. Michael and Francis are the children of Trinidadian immigrants, living with their mother in a housing complex in this urban center. Their mother dreams of more and better for her sons and works tirelessly to ensure this happens. The boys also imagine their futures. Francis in the music industry and Michael dreams of a life with Aisha, far from the concrete walls of 'The Park'. But in 1991 Scarborough, racial tensions are running high, violence is becoming part of everyday life, police presence is heavy and prejudices are rampant. Those hopes and dreams of the three members of this family are changed forever by the violence of that year. Brother is told in a back and forth timeline spanning ten years. In the present we learn about the past as the book progresses. Brother is a slim novel, but it took me a while to read it. I had to put the book down numerous times - to absorb and avoid the inevitability of what was coming next - even though I knew what that was. The story is real - and raw. Chariandy's prose are absolutely beautiful, drawing you in and wrapping themselves around you. I cried more than once as I read. As a mother, that is where I felt that punch the hardest - her hopes, dreams and desires for her children. And the undercurrent of the loss of her own wants and desires. Her perseverance, fortitude and strength resonated with me - even as it eroded and collided with ugly reality. I'm sickened by the indignities, attitudes and prejudices depicted. Even more so as I know they are not fiction. But those moments are juxtaposed and tempered by the acts of love, joy and happiness that also part of the life of this family. Brother speaks to the immigrant experience, to family, love, loss, hope, duty and desires. And the fact that the past is still the present. Absolutely, positively recommended reading.
Date published: 2017-12-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Heart-wrenching A little to much on the dark side for my taste but a good read overall.
Date published: 2017-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A little depressing It's interesting that this book is set in Scarborough - it's rare to come across novels set in Canada at all. Since moving "east" (of Alberta), I've heard a lot about Scarborough and it's reputation, so this read was definitely interesting. It did leave the reader with a sense of despair, though. What is the path forward for marginalized communities?
Date published: 2017-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A dark tale but one worth reading... I made the mistake of bringing this book with me on vacation. The story is way too deep and dark to read while trying to relax. Rather, it is intense and inherently sad, although, as someone who started coming of age in the 1990s, I saw it as accurately depicting the social and political climate of east end Toronto at the time. Brother is a tragic tale but one which is so well written that it is worth delving into the darkness and sadness of the lives on the characters.
Date published: 2017-11-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Left Me Wanting More Too Often I ordered David Chariandy’s “Brother” because it is on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and therefore had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. Side note: I was surprised, when the book arrived in the mail, that it was in hardcover format with a dust jacket. It is unusual for a publisher to incur that extra expense these days. I did wonder if it was done to make the book seem more substantial. “Brother” is a short work – longer than a novella but thin for a novel. Chariandy does have a polished and, at times, poetic narrative voice which is engaging. But the story is told in the first person perspective, and for my tastes, seems very one dimensional. The main character is standing back and relating the story mainly in retrospective. I was never entirely pulled into and taken up with the story. “Brother” has a very contemporary plot which much dramatic potential. Michael and Francis, sons of Trinidadian immigrants, are growing up and coming of age in “The Park” – a low income and marginalized area of a major city. Their father is not in the picture, leaving their mother to do her best to make a better life for her sons. But a tragic shooting and the subsequent police crackdown undermines their hopes and dreams. “Brother” has won high praise from many reviewers and clearly has literary merit. However, I feel it does not go deep enough or wide enough in exploring the many alluring nuances of the plot. It left me wanting more too often.
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Fantastic story and now short listed for the Giller award. could be a winner.
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking and powerful Brother by David Chariandy Brother by David Chariandy is reminiscent of 'Born a Crime' by Trevor Noah. In two different heartbreaking timelines, Michael details his childhood and growing up with his strong single mom and adored brother Raymond in a Toronto suburb in the 1980's, how their lives fell apart and how he deals with his mother now who has never recovered. This spare, gritty, powerful novel about poverty, immigration, race and family from RandomHouseCAshould be celebrated as the best of Canadian literature and has now been longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. #IndigoEmployee #yswordss
Date published: 2017-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Powerful, heartbreaking story Brother by David Chariandy Brother by David Chariandy is reminiscent of 'Born a Crime' by Trevor Noah. In two different heartbreaking timelines, Michael details his childhood and growing up with his strong single mom and adored brother Raymond in a Toronto suburb in the 1980's, how their lives fell apart and how he deals with his mother now who has never recovered. This spare, gritty, powerful novel about poverty, immigration, race and family should be celebrated as the best of Canadian literature. This was a gift from PenguinRandomHouse in exchange for an honest review. 8 stars. #IndigoEmployee #yswordss
Date published: 2017-09-18

Read from the Book

The world around us was named Scarborough. It had once been called “Scarberia,” a wasteland on the out­skirts of a sprawling city. But now, as we were growing up in the early ’80s, in the heated language of a chang­ing nation, we heard it called other names: Scarlem, Scarbistan. We lived in Scar-bro, a suburb that had mush­roomed up and yellowed, browned, and blackened into life. Our neighbours were Mrs. Chandrasekar and Mr. Chow, Pilar Fernandez and Clive “Sonny” Barrington. They spoke different languages, they ate different foods, but they were all from one colony or the other, and so they had a shared vocabulary for describing feral children like us. We were “ragamuffins.” We were “hooligans” up to no good “gallivanting.” We were what one neighbour, more poet than security guard, described as “oiled crea­tures of mongoose cunning,” raiding dumpsters and garbage rooms or climbing up trees and fire-exit stairs to spy on adults. During winters we snowballed cars on Lawrence Avenue, dipping into the back alleys if the drivers tried to pursue us. A Pinto Wagon once shaving past my face, its wake tugging hard upon my body, Francis’s hand upon my shoulder pulling me safe. During the day, we had more formal educational opportunities. Our school was named after Sir Alexander Campbell, a Father of Confederation. But we the stu­dents of his school had our own confederations, our own schoolyard territories and alliances, our own trade agree­ments and anthems. We listened to Planet Rock and carried Adidas bags and wore stonewashed jeans and painter caps. You could hear us whenever there were general assemblies in the auditorium, our collective voices overwhelming whatever politely seated ceremony we were supposed to be attending. Hey Francis, homeboy, my man. Rudebwoy Francis! Gangstar! Francis and I each served out long sentences in class­rooms beneath the chemical hum of white fluorescent lights, in part out of fear of our mother, who warned us, upon pain of something worse than death, not to squan­der “our only chance.” But Francis actually liked to learn. He read books, and he was a good observer. And after class was out there were other institutions to learn from. A dozen blocks west of the towers and housing complexes of the Park, at the intersection of Markham and Lawrence, there lay a series of strip malls. There were grocery shops selling spices and herbs under signs in foreign languages and scripts, vegetables and fruits with vaguely familiar names like ackee and eddo. There were restaurants with an average expiry date of a year, their hand-painted signs promising ice cream with the “back home tastes” of mango and khoya and badam kulfi, a second sign written urgently in red marker promising that they’d also serve, whenever asked, the mystery of “Canadian food.”

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction PrizeWinner of the Toronto Book Award Winner of the 2018 Ethel Wilson Fiction PrizeLonglisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller PrizeA Globe and Mail Best BookA Quill & Quire Best Book of 2017A Toronto Star Top 10 Book of 2017Praise 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 brilliant, 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