Brother

by david char­iandy

The Walrus - - ON THE TABLE - — Ru­drapriya Rathore

david char­iandy’s sec­ond novel, Brother, is set in Scar­bor­ough, an eastern fringe of Toronto’s sub­urbs. Char­iandy’s eye is keen: he serves up the “se­cu­rity lights and rust- stained apart­ment build­ings,” the strip malls and park­ing lots, the gro­cery signs for pro­duce in for­eign lan­guages. In the novel, Michael and his brother, Fran­cis, are “raga­muffins” rum­mag­ing through dump­sters and scam­per­ing through their neigh­bour­hood look­ing for en­ter­tain­ment. Char­iandy’s story un­rav­els across two time­lines. There is the un­usu­ally hot sum­mer when Fran­cis is fa­tally shot by the po­lice. And there is the win­ter a decade later, when Michael, still racked with grief, is vis­ited by an old friend. Be­cause the story is told in a non­lin­ear way that mim­ics me­mory, Char­iandy’s novel feels in­ti­mately lay­ered and com­plex. An in­ter­sec­tion, a smell, a cer­tain spot in the woods, the sound of a par­tic­u­lar Trinida­dian word in a par­tic­u­larly Trinida­dian ac­cent — these are like switches on the dash­board of Michael’s me­mory that bring us deeper into his his­tory with his late brother. A com­ing-of-age story about fra­ter­nal love, Brother is the work of a re­fined and sub­tle tal­ent.

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