[A] tightly crafted, gracefully elegiac second novel ... Chariandy’s writing is accomplished and confident: every word hits its mark ... Brother is an exquisite novel, crafted by a writer as talented and precise as Junot Díaz and Dinaw Mengestu. It has a beating heart and a sharp tongue. It is elegant, vital, indubitably dope—the most moving book I’ve read in a year.
...hardly the first novel to wrestle with the strange confluences of fate and consequence—or even the first to frame [its story] through the eyes of characters whose identities lie at least partly on another continent. But [it does] it with such shrewd insight and graceful economy that the result feels gratifyingly new ... Chariandy (whose previous novel was released only in Canada) traces that loss in paragraphs so clean and pared down, every sentence feels like a polished stone ... [a story] that [doesn't] try to outline or erase otherness but illuminate it, beautifully.
Depicting their tightly bound relationship triangle and its remnants in the aftermath of the tragedy, Mr. Chariandy’s novel is small but emotionally dense, a dwarf star of mourning and regret ... the neat trick of Brother is its ability to explore the disorienting effects of grief without sacrificing any sharpness in its portrayals. Mr. Chariandy’s descriptions of life in the Park—the hangouts, the late-night dangers, the home cooking and most of all the music—have the texture of felt experience. Most memorable is the character of Ruth, whom we see as both a redoubtable matriarch and a confused, heartbreakingly bereft woman. In her strength and her suffering, she seems as ageless as literature itself.
This is a slim novel, yet Chariandy manages to encompass a world with astonishing detail and feeling inside it ... Especially astute is Chariandy’s depiction of the hostile white gaze: the police officers in Brother look upon all black men as potential suspects and treat them as such. This aspect of the book feels urgent given the Black Lives Matter movement ... It took Chariandy a decade to write Brother, and it is a breathtaking achievement. It is a compulsive, brutal and flawless novel that is full of accomplished storytelling with not a word spare. It is not just about a particular place or poverty or institutional racism, but about the ardour of brotherly love and the loneliness of grief.
This book is a high-wire act – a taut, highly visual, time-stopping story of two brothers ... Brother is filled with moments of swagger and bravery, of recklessness and love that sparks against the dull pain of tragedy, which is foretold in elegiac descriptions of the landscape ... If blackness and maleness and so much about racialized experience gets reduced to two nefarious dimensions on TV, and inadequate words in the news, what can fiction do for us at a time when we are looking to understand other people's truths? As it turns out in [Brother], everything. What Chariandy has created in this slim book is a language that can transcend the limits of words ... Chariandy has written a book worth reading through an entire library to find.
Beyond the superbly written setting and characters, what is most striking about Brother is Chariandy’s brutally honest depiction of the prejudice, violence, and lack of opportunity faced by the denizens of the Park, and so many other neighbourhoods like it ... CanLit is often derided for its reliance on stories of the past and remembering the hurts of previous generations. What Chariandy has crafted with Brother is a book that bridges the gap between recollection and timeliness.
Chariandy’s often elegiac tone and stately but spare prose establish a compelling melancholic mood ... Just placed on the Giller Prize longlist, Chariandy’s revisitation of familiar territory pays off with its singular observations and insights. A novel with sentences to savour, Brother also rewards an unhurried reader with a poetic vision that while sad is also lovely.
Brother is a quick read at only 180 pages, but the term 'quick read' belies its gravity. According to Chariandy, the novel took him a long time to write, and I can guarantee that its tenderly written characters, delicately crafted dialogue, precise pacing, and stirring, old-soul tone, will sit in my heart and mind for a long time.
It is a lyrical coming-of-age story that speaks to timely issues of police brutality and prejudice ... Despite its brevity, Brother delivers an epic impact. The novel is poetic without being sentimental and heartbreaking without being manipulative ... Chariandy has something vital to share about what occurs when young lives are cut down. As readers, it is our duty to listen.
These brothers are composites in their affectations of street culture and birth order, but Francis is rendered beautiful in his specificity. He is laconic yet tender, fiercely loyal without needing to explain the origin of his love. Girls adore him; boys respect him not for any particular thuggery but because of his intensity ... Chariandy, like Mohsin Hamid, keeps his prose spare and tight ...Throughout, past, present, and future nudge against each other with a syncopation that mimics the disparate musical traditions that Jelly weaves together amid the hair oils, grease, and sundry filth of a makeshift hair salon cum studio where the highest hopes are nurtured and also shot through the heart and left to bleed. It is fitting that the tell overwhelms the show in this novel ... Sometimes, secrets are all an immigrant is allowed to keep.
[A] powerful and incendiary second novel ... instead of relying on stale stereotypes, Chariandy imbues his resilient characters and their stories with strength, dignity, and hope. This is an impressive novel written by an author in total command of his story.
Chariandy’s second novel is a slender volume with the heart of a family epic ... Chariandy reveals a world of violence, frustrated hopes, and the delicate family bonds necessary for survival. The prose is beautiful and unflinching without giving way to sentimentality ... [The characters'] journey is like the novel itself, isn’t always easy but it is absolutely necessary ... An important, riveting novel about dreams, families, and the systems holding them back.