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Brother

Written by: David Chariandy
Narrated by: Joseph Pierre
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 David Chariandy (P)2017 Penguin Random House Canada

What the critics say

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)

Editorial Review

Brother is a moving, powerful, and poignant second novel by the award-winning David Chariandy that looks at family bonds, immigrant stories, and inherent prejudice that can shape and mould young hearts and minds.

Chariandy tells a beautiful story of Trinidadian immigrants - two brothers and their mother- and their new life in Scarborough. As they face the challenges of a new neighbourhood, we see them just as any other young boys - ones with dreams, hopes, ambitions and struggles. This story’s strength is its complex and relatable characters. Chariandy writes both young men with such depth and precision to make them both wholly unique and deeply relatable, which becomes more important when addressing the prejudice and negative assumptions the boys face as people of colour. Whether it is tough times in high school, finding love in the enchanting Aisha, adjusting to a new world, or the shot of a gun that changes everything, book lovers everywhere will be moved by this emotional story.

Like his first award-winning novel, Chariandy’s Brother is infused with so much emotion, complexity, and beautiful wording, creating an all-encompassing story and genuinely moving. You will be pulled into the brothers’ world and form strong bonds with the two boys. The neighbourhood and setting, too, are wonderfully described, creating a visual landscape of both the rough outskirts of Scarborough and the lush escape into the wilderness that is the Rouge Valley. Deeply Canadian, the story pairs both city life and nature to create a blueprint of Canada and what it means to grow up in the Greater Toronto Area.

Joseph Pierre narrates Brother and brings a beautiful tone to the poetic style of the book. His open, honest voice will connect with you and allows for the familial ties between mother, son, and little brother that are highlighted so well in this book to shine through. You will feel as though you are one of the brothers and part of the family. An absolute must-listen, this moving coming-of-age story that celebrates brown ancestry even as it highlights prejudice and privilege is sure to leave a long-lasting impression.

What listeners say about Brother

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Easy to loose yourself in this audiobook

This is an amazing novel. It is written so poetically and with so much emotion, the narrator really does this story justice.

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Amazing coming of age story

well written book! loved it!! I could relate to many parts of the story having grown up in a family with Caribbean heritage.

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one of Canada reads finalist 2019

a story of complicated grief and the pain of those left behind. one of Canada reads finalist for 2019, theme: books to move you.

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Fantastic reflection on life

Brother is a fantastic reflection on what it means to be a child (to have parents), on being a sibling, on race and religion, and on class identity. I loved Chariandy's last novel and this didn't disappoint despite the wide class and racial differences between me and the protagonist.

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Great characters, setting, will linger long after

This short novel is rife with riveting characters, a strong sense of place and setting, and a terrific overall reading by Joseph Pierre. The story of two brothers raised in Scarborough by their mother, and their two different routes in life, their very different personalities, and the effects they have on one another, bring this novel alive. The setting, and Chariandy's descriptions throughout of the community and place are compelling, too. This story and its characters linger long after you've finished hearing it.

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Gritty, honest, lyrical

I was unable to stop listening. So much of this book resonates with my own memories of Toronto in the 1980s. On the other hand, so much is like another world. A reminder that in a country still striving for social justice, wildly different lives unfold just around the corner from our own.

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Extraordinary

This book gets into your soul--subtle and indelible. The characters, the writing, the depth of story that plunges the reader far below the still surface...everything about this book is perfection.

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