"A searing, hauntingly poignant memoir."Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Let’s be clear. Brothers is a love story. A tragic, beautiful, riveting, soulshaking love story. It is a love story between boys, men, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, and brothers. It is a love story that doesn’t so much cross the color line as study it and reveal its elusive nature, its shape-shifting form as border, wall, bludgeon, rope, threshold, even a lifeline. Nico Slate writes with clarity, disarming honesty, rawness, and beauty matched only by his brother’s extraordinary life and character. Brothers is a journey of discovery and recovery, an unfinished struggle to piece together the fragments of a man who, in the midst of wrestling with his own demons and disappointments, managed to make those he loved whole. Concealed in the many lives of Peter Slate, there is more here than meets the eye.”Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
“A gripping and pertinent account, Brothers explores the bonds of race, family, and love with disarming honesty and probing insight.”Jasmin Darznik, author of the New York Times bestselling memoir The Good Daughter
“This captivating memoir, written by acclaimed historian Nico Slate, recounts the remarkable, yet tragically short, life of Slate’s older brother as he navigated the complex terrain of race in the United States. In lively and compelling prose, Slate offers an honest and moving story that illuminates the power of family and the true meaning of brotherhood. This memoir challenges and inspires, leaving readers with a treasure trove of rich insights on race, history, and family.”Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom
A Carnegie Mellon history professor tells the story of the deep and complex bond between him and his African American half brother.
Slate, author of Colored Cosmopolitanism and Lord Cornwallis Is Dead, worshipped his older brother, Peter, “my best friend and the closest thing I had to a father.” As an adult, the author realized that Peter would always be a mystery to him not just because of their seven-year age gap, but also because of the different experiences race imposed upon their lives. The brothers shared the same White American mother, but Nico’s father was White, Peter’s Black. Slate’s maternal grandparents at first turned away from their daughter for marrying a Black man—though they grew to love Peter. “Their generosity reveals the Janus-faced nature of racism,” writes the author. “The same people who stopped speaking to their daughter when she married an African treasured her mixed-race son.” As the author was growing up, it became clear that even though he was “the bastard of the family” (his father and mother never married), it was Peter “whom everyone saw as out of place.” Though both boys were equally bright, Nico finished college but Peter did not. When Peter was 21, an argument with a White man at a nightclub led to an altercation that caused him to lose his right eye. The incident left scars—both visible and invisible—on both brothers. Peter began a musical association with the hip-hop group Cypress Hill and eventually became a rapper and screenwriter. Meanwhile, the author became obsessed with discovering the truth behind police reports that could tell him nothing about either the motive behind the attack or “the role that race played that night.” Throughout this powerful narrative, Slate reveals how race wounded a uniquely American family while also celebrating the broken but profoundly enduring love of two brothers who faced difficult issues of race from their own unique perspectives.
A searing, hauntingly poignant memoir.