Canada Reads 2019

Brother by David Chariandy

David Chariandy's novel, which explores questions of masculinity, family, race and identity, won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
David Chariandy is the author of Brother. (Joy van Tiedemann/Penguin Random House Canada)

Brother by David Chariandy is on the Canada Reads 2019 longlistCanada Reads 2019 is about finding one book to move you. The final five books and the panellists defending them will be revealed on Jan. 31, 2019.

The 2019 debates will take place March 25-28, 2019 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan

About Brother

Brother 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 fulfil 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. (From McClelland & Stewart)

David  Chariandy's  Brother is both an exceptional coming of age story and a poignant meditation on love, loss, and humanity.- 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize jury

Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2018 Toronto Book Award and the 2018 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. It was also longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

The film and television rights for Brother have been picked up by Toronto production companies Conquering Lion and Hawkeye Pictures, with Clement Virgo attached to adapt the screenplay and direct the film.

Why David Chariandy wrote Brother

"I'm a fiction writer and this is clearly the work of the imagination. It's set in a time period that is very different from today's world. But I still wanted to capture what Scarborough was really like for a child in the early 1990s, particularly a child with a black mother and a South Asian father growing up at that particular time.

These stories are often overlooked and ignored. I wanted to capture this narrative, one of resilience, creativity, tenderness and love.- David Chariandy

"There was, at that time, a lot of anxiety about visible minorities moving into the area and changing the landscape. I grew up hearing these stories — about people I love and respect, who were profoundly creative and hardworking and simply had dreams of living a good life. These stories are often overlooked and ignored. I wanted to capture this narrative, one of resilience, creativity, tenderness and love."

Read more in David Chariandy's interview with CBC Books.

From the book

He was my brother. The one who told me about lightning and girls. The one who crouched beside me in hideouts when we were little. His shoulder thin and bare against mine, his body always just a skin away. That summer when we were only seven and eight and we climbed the sappy pine busting out of the asphalt behind the 7-Eleven. Days after reaching for each other's hands to smell and name what clung there still. ('It's Mr. Clean,' my brother finally said, nailing it.) That fall of the same year when he led me to the road-side ditch off Lawrence Avenue and piled the loose and blowing stuff of this land over our bodies like a blanket, hoping for cover. Leaves of orange and red, dried weeds and twigs. Also trash like paper and foil and the many shredded plastic bags blown here from fast food shops. Our hats camouflaged all guerilla style with twigs and mashed up drinking straws. Our faces already the color of earth.

From Brother by David Chariandy ©2017. Published by McClelland & Stewart.  

Interviews with David Chariandy

David Chariandy on his latest novel, which is on the long list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. 13:47

More about Brother from CBC Radio

Books contributor Jael Richardson joins host Tom Power to discuss her book pick of the week. Today, she'll be talking about David Chariandy's new novel, Brother. 7:52
Columnist Aparita Bhandari on Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez, Brother by David Chariandy and That Time I Loved You by Carianne Leung. 11:38

Other books by David Chariandy