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.
|Cr:Joy Van Tiedemann|
"David Chariandy grew up in (Scarborough) 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. Brother is his second novel."