‘Brother,’ Can You Spare Some Empathy? [REVIEW]


David Chariandy’s Brother throbs with life, in part due to the music that permeates it. (Photo courtesy Canva)

A mother’s sacrifice. One girl’s ambitions. Two brothers’ dreams. And the act of violence that will change each of their lives forever. Discover why David Chariandy’s Brother has become one of the most beloved novels of our time. 

David Chariandy's BROTHER


Siblings Michael and Francis seemed to have the whole world in front of them. They were intelligent, resourceful boys with big dreams for their futures. But their mama pretty much raised them that way, sometimes working three jobs to ensure they had every opportunity to succeed despite their Trinidad roots and the discrimination and racism they all seemed to incessantly experience.

Music pumps through Francis’s soul. He has aspirations of working in the music biz and wants to build a future in the world of hip hop. But Michael, on the other hand, is “twitterpated,” and is head over heels in love with his classmate Aisha. She has no intention of staying still and putting down roots where they currently live though, and instead fosters dreams that will take her far away from home. All of their desires are shattered, however, on one blistering night when an act of violence destroys every hope they ever had.

Brothers is one of those books that opens our hearts with scalpel-sharp precision and makes us bleed. It infuses us with despair and the knowledge of what it feels like to suffer loss in the face of abject poverty, and the weight of it is crushing. Yet, Chariandy writes in such a way that the book is also beautiful and uplifting, taut and poetic. In the end, this laconic volume reminds us that even in the darkest room, hope flickers to life and guides our way. Literate and emotional, this is a novel that explores much of what is wrong in our society today, how ludicrous it all is, and begs each of us to be more empathetic to the downtrodden. Chariandy is an author to watch!

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David Chariandy

David Chariandy
(Photo by Joy van Tiedemann)


David Chariandy is the author of the award-winning novel, Brother, which received rave reviews, was named a Best Book of 2017 on no fewer than eight lists, and won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and the Toronto Book Award.

He is also the author of the the nonfiction work I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter and the novel Soucouyant, which received nominations from 11 literary awards juriesIn 2019, he won Yale’s Windham-Campbell Prize in fiction. 

David is a professor at Simon Fraser University where he teaches contemporary literature, and specializes in Black, Caribbean, and Canadian fiction. He grew up  in Toronto and lives in Vancouver.

By David Chariandy
192 pp. Bloomsbury. $16.

Purchase Brother at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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