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Book Report: “Brother”


“Brother” is an outstanding short but tragic and poignant novel by David Chariandy about a lost brother and the “complex grief” that follows in an impoverished immigrant neighborhood. The novel has received many honors and awards, such as the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Toronto Book Award. “Brother” is a short novel that explores immigration, poverty, masculinity, family, and racism without wasting a single word. Brother, Chariandy’s well-received short story, is about a guy thinking about his Caribbean family’s existence in Scarborough, as well as his brother’s life cut short during their shared adolescence. Michael and Francis are victims of systematic injustice, poverty, and discrimination. Through these two brothers, Chariandy explores the social and cultural dimensions of diaspora with devastating emotional power and searing clarity.


The novel “Brother” is set in 1991 over the summer at The Park, a run-down Scarborough complex. The protagonist, Michael, loses his younger brother, Francis, to gun violence. Michael, who has lost his elder brother, Francis, and now cares for his bereaved mother, tells the story in the first person. Each chapter is divided into unmarked portions that flow across time in a layered memory structure that lays out Michael’s relationship with Francis and his loss. The tale frequently jumps back and forth between the present and several prior storylines. The novel delves into Michael’s prior memories of Francis and all of their confrontations with the police officers. Michael’s memories are evident in the characters’ struggles with race, identity, family, and masculinity. Ruth, Michael’s mother, strives to keep up in employment and maintain her mental health while dealing with profound emotions. The novel concludes with Francis being shot by a police officer after refusing to obey him. Through the unfair treatment of the protagonist, Michael, and his surrounding community, David Chariandy’s novel “Brother” depicts numerous aspects of colonial tyranny. The way the racial majority, the police, and other authority officials handle them demonstrates this. In today’s biased culture, the text perpetuates cultural hegemony.

Social and Cultural Dimensions of Diaspora in the “Brother”

The narrative approach and manner of representation is always significant factor in determining whether a novel or a tale succeeds. The author’s style or method distinguishes the text from the variety of other works. Despite utilizing other techniques in his novel, Chariandy (2018) also incorporates diaspora’s social and cultural implications. Diaspora literature explores/focuses on alienation, nostalgia, displacement, loneliness, assimilation, acculturation, the search for identity and existential rootlessness, and cultural disintegration. An individual must reconsider several things before migrating, which necessitates understanding atonement, such as readjustment, adaptability, and involvement. The majority of diasporic literature is autobiographical, and its narrative rhetoric aesthetics are primarily founded on memory and recollections of the past (Kumar & Dwivedi, nd.). These recollections aren’t only about the past; they are also about the present and have far-reaching repercussions for the future. When one looks at the story structure attentively, one may notice that it is spatial and purposely repeating.

Immigrating is one of the most significant life transitions a person can make. Adapting to a new environment after migrating to a new nation can be difficult and time-consuming. Chariandy puts his readers into Michael’s and Francis’ lives, in his story. He exemplifies the difficulties of growing up in a low-income immigrant area. The two brothers faced financial challenges, social isolation and racial prejudice, financial hardships, and social isolation as potrayed in the novel. The impact of being an immigrant’s poor child, on the other hand, are shown in Brother as the thoughtless biases and low expectations that Michael and Francis face as a result of their economic and ethnic position, making them look like eternal outsiders.

Racism is something Michael and Francis have to deal with regularly. Every time the brothers are stopped and searched by the police, they are obliged to play along. “We had been stopped by the cops previously,” Michael says, according to Chariandy (2018, p. 29). There was a routine to it all: we knew that if you played along, you would be freed eventually, if not with your dignity, then at least with your skin.” (Chariandy, 2018, p. 29). This demonstrates how police officers in the black community misuse their position by viewing black people negatively and violates their rights. As a result, Michael and Francis are solely viewed as robbers, and others misunderstand them because of their ethnicity. People surrounding Michael and Francis have a bad attitude about them and tend to avoid them. As a result, Michael and Francis fight against the irrational biases they face as young black males, as they are abused by the police and viewed solely as criminals.

Furthermore, the narrative effectively conveys the family’s extreme poverty. Ruth, their hardworking mother, longs for a better life for her sons and works endlessly to make ends meet. “Sometimes I had even been jealous of my elder sister and the lovely life that she alone had discovered by going abroad,” Michael’s aunt says in the reading. Mother remained silent. She refused to recognize that she did not have the time or the resources to finish her education and pursue nursing. She made no mention of her debts, struggles, or the aches she regularly had.” (Chariandy, 2018, p.146). Contrary to the life she was living, her family members kept on complaining about how life must be in Canada when. However, Michael’s mother pushed herself to exhaustion, commuting for hours each day to seize another chance. This situation vividly portrays the weaknesses of the minority groups and the difficulties that they face as poor immigrants.

A sense of estrangement toward Michael and his family is also shown in the narrative. When the family goes to a shopping center, they are made to feel uncomfortable. “As we traveled from store to store, the employees were unusually attentive to us,” Michael said (Chariandy, 2018, p.151). This is because Michael’s mother was still dressed in her uniform and footwear, and she had to discreetly explain to overly interested sales assistants that she was merely window shopping. The two brothers’ economic and ethnic background, on the other hand, contributed to their gradual understanding that they will never truly feel a part of the town in which they grew up. Through this cases as illustrated in the novel, it is clear that their family is socially isolated in their society making them feel excluded when in public.


Brother by David Chariandy is an honest depiction of the social and cultural dimensions of diaspora, including experiences of high levels of poverty that force families to live in poor neighborhood, inequality, and a sense of isolation. Chariandy prefers subtlety and inference to extensive expositional passages, giving the novel a feeling of realism. The novel is a wonderfully sustained elegy for a departed sibling, written with gentle beauty and emotionally powerful resonance. “Brothers” is a narrative about how the immigrant dream may go awry, but it does not pound the reader with polemics. The text in this tiny work is enthralling, wonderfully detailed, and immensely lyrical.


Chariandy, D. (2018). Brother. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

Kumar, A. N., & Dwivedi, R. R. Diaspora Fiction and the Question of Style of Representation-A Study.


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