Brother by David ChariandyBrother by David Chariandy


byDavid Chariandy

Hardcover | September 26, 2017

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Winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

Longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize

A Globe and Mail Best Book

A Quill & Quire Best Book of 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.

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 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

Advance Praise for Brother:"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 NothingPraise for Soucouyant:"Elegant and accomplished.... Chariandy is an observant, eloquent writer." —Donna Nurse, Toronto Star"Chariandy's heartwrenching tale . . . leaves a deep imprint upon the soul.... The texture of his prose is silken, his phrasing melodic." —Montreal Gazette"Chariandy fully inhabits his story. . . . His closing chapter reprises that authenticity, revealing childhood horrors that shock us to a final understanding." —Globe and Mail