Longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Brother is a short but tight story contains so much emotion and is very intense. It explores masculinity, family, race, and identity as they are played out in a Scarborough housing complex.
Personally, I really connected with the immigrant experience and problems surrounding this community. I love the fact that this book didn’t shy away from sadness. Grieving is a complicated process and ongoing, whether it’s for death, lost love, lost life, or lost memories. Sometimes it will take collected effort to keep the healing going. In addition, I can better understand the disadvantage in the black community after this book, for that’s what happened to Micheal and Francis. Brother is an important and relevant story today.
I read The Sun and Her Flowers (Rupi Kaur) after this book, and I feel that some of the passages in Kaur’s poems really echo with themes in Brother. These connections between the two books are kind of unexpected and serendipitous.
Brother has an ending that satisfied me; without giving anything away, I just want to say that the very last word charged me with power and energy. It’s not the kind of ending where everyone lived happily ever after, but it offers comfort, support, and it acknowledged that it is ok to have scares in your heart. In the end, what really matters is to express, to reach out, and to heal together.
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Also by David Chariandy:
How can I hope to make you understand why I love Fiddler on the Roof so much. The musical has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and is basically my family’s immigrant story – living in a traditional shtetl in Ukraine or Poland until pogroms drove them away. That’s how Fiddler on the Roof ends, before that Tevya the Milkman has to come to terms with his daughters growing up and the end of the old traditions.
So yeah, I love Fiddler. And of the wonderful cast of characters I have always identified most with Hodel (and pretty much fell in love with Perchik). The last we see of Hodel, she is waiting with her father for a train that will take her to Siberia, to Perchik. She sings “Far from the Home I Love” and leaves. We don’t get to know what happens to her, if she finds Perchik, if they get married. Nothing. As Hodel says, “God only knows”.
But it turns out someone had an idea. Continue reading
I just finished Next Year, for Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson, and the first thing I can say about it is that it’s not like any other romantic story that I have read before. The story centres on a couple, Kathryn and Chris, and their attempt in being in an open relationship. Although Chris is the one who is infatuated with a young woman named Emily, Kathryn is the one who encourages him to pursue her! At first, I found this to be very strange, but as I am reading, I understand Kathryn’s reasoning for this. She wants Chris to be happy, which she believes will make her happy, but it’s not as simple as she might think. Feelings of guilt, jealousy, sadness and selfishness will eventually surface in this story.
Chris doesn’t completely abandon his relationship with Kathryn. In fact, because he is so indecisive with his feelings, he goes back and forth between Kathryn and Emily. This certainly frustrates me as these two women clearly deserve better, and yet, I was intrigued to see how these relationships play out. After reading this story, I can say that I am pleased with how each character ended up. I can’t reveal anything else, so if you’re interested, grab a copy of Next Year, for Sure!