Perhaps Ganeshananthan’s finest achievement in Brotherless Night is showing, with meticulous accuracy, what it feels like to inhabit a day-to-day life onto which someone else, from the privilege of great distance, can throw a word like 'terrorism,' and be done ... Ganeshananthan is a writer of remarkable restraint. Occasionally a precious exclamation mark finds its way into an especially cataclysmic scene, or the narrator might feel the air rushing out of her lungs or her hand involuntarily covering her mouth at the news of a loved one’s death; but otherwise the prose is almost unsatisfyingly steady. And yet, in tone and emotional register, Sashi’s storytelling is a perfect fit for the delicate balance she is forced to walk by virtue of living in a society where running afoul of the dominant forces, saying the wrong thing, leveling too impassioned a rebuke, can prove a capital offense ... The narrator’s deliberative mode of describing her life feels, by the end of the novel, like the only way this story could have been told ... And when she wants to, Ganeshananthan can loosen her restraint to pull off gorgeous sentences.
Propulsive ... Ganeshananthan's attention to the small details of love, of caring, of human empathy make the reader feel deeply for all her characters ... Riveting, heartbreaking and extraordinary for both its empathetic gaze and its clear-eyed depiction of the brutality of war, Brotherless Night is a masterpiece.
The novel begins by immediately challenging our assumptions and vocabularies ... Through this moving story, Ganeshananthan traces the human aspects of war—the physical losses and tragedies as well as the conflicts of values that are often the true battlefields. Rather than justifying or lamenting the horrors of a civil war that ended a little over a decade ago, she shows that by focusing on all of the people involved, both 'good' and 'bad,' we can learn how and why humans fight—and why it’s so important to stop the cycle.
A searing and intimate depiction of the Sri Lankan civil war from the point of view of an aspiring doctor ... Ganeshananthan credibly captures the horrors and pain of the conflict felt by those caught between loyalties. It all makes for a convincing and illuminating war novel.