Why I Write

Why Canada Reads author David Chariandy writes about place, identity and belonging

In this special Canada Reads 2019 edition of the CBC Books video series, the author of Brother talks about how he defines love and understanding in his fiction.
In this special Canada Reads 2019 edition of the CBC Books video series, the author of Brother talks about how he defines love and understanding in his fiction. 3:11

David Chariandy is a Toronto-born and Vancouver-based author.

His award-winning novel, Brother, is the story of two brothers growing up in a troubled housing complex in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the 2018 Toronto Book Award.

It is currently a Canada Reads contender, where it will be defended by actor and model Lisa Ray. The debates take place March 25-28, 2019.

CBC Books talked to Chariandy for the latest installment of the Why I Write series.

Brotherly love

"The idea for Brother came from thinking about the importance of my own brother in my life. Brother, the novel, is a work of fiction but I think much of the tenderness and love that I've tried to invest in the book came from the love and tenderness I felt for my own brother."

Outside looking in

"Some of the themes in Brother look at growing up in Canada but feeling a certain gaze upon you — and being made to feel uncomfortable in the city in which you've always lived. But the book is also about loving other people in your neighbourhood and finding joy and enjoying music.

"It's important not only to capture important issues but also to rivet one's attention to the beauty of everyday life."

A good fit

"I'm honestly not sure how my literature fits into the Canadian canon. I write about places here, in Canada, on these Indigenous lands, but I know that my literature also connects to the Caribbean and to the black world and to other places as well." 

    David Chariandy's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

    The CBC Books Why I Write series features authors speaking on what literature means to them.

    The Canada Reads 2019 contenders

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