Brother by David Chariandy finalist for $35K US Aspen Words Literary Prize

The American prize recognizes fiction that highlights contemporary social issues and represents the power of fiction in inspiring social change.
David Chariandy is the author of the award-winning novel Brother. (CBC)

Brother by David Chariandy is one of five books shortlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize. 

The $35,000 US (approx. $46,036 Cdn) prize is in its second year and, according to its website, recognizes "an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture."

The other finalists for the 2019 prize are Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Gun Love by Jennifer Clement, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and There, There by Tommy Orange.

Works of fiction published by an American publisher are eligible for the prize, regardless of the author's nationality or residency. The prize is administered by the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, The Aspen Institute. 

Brother takes us inside the lives of two brothers, sons of Trinidadian immigrants, growing up in a housing project in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough in the 1990s. Rooted in Chariandy's own experience growing up, the novel explores discrimination, agency, grief and the power of human relationships.

Brother is currently a contender for Canada Reads 2019. It will be defended by actor, model and television personality Lisa Ray during the debatee, which take place March 25-28.

Brother also 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.

The winner of the Aspen Words Literary Prize will be announced on April 11, 2019 at the Morgan Library in New York City.

Last year's winner was Mohsin Hamid for his novel Exit West.