“David Chariandy's letter to his daughter is in turns disquieting, heartfelt, unflinchingly tender, wry; writ large with love throughout. It is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.” Aminatta Forna, author of HAPPINESS
“Chariandy's stunning book is a precise puncturing of the post-racial bubble, as well as an incredibly personal and powerful letter. I wish I could have read this when I was growing up."” Nafkote Tamirat, author of THE PARKING LOT ATTENDANT
“I've Been Meaning to Tell You builds upon foundational discussions of race and gender, layering in intersections of class and citizenship with a flawless hand. Chariandy is smart, tender, and often funny as he weaves together narrative and analysis to navigate perhaps the most complex relationship of all: that of father and daughter.”” Sara Novic, author of GIRL AT WAR
“A brilliant, powerful elegy . . . pulsing with rhythm, and beating with life.” Marlon James, Man Booker Prize-winning author of A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS, on BROTHER
“Brother is a surprising, and really shocking novel, unafraid of exploring the overlaps in love, loss, sexuality, race, place, terror and class. It is bold. It is brilliant. It marks the beginning of an absolutely mammoth literary talent.” Kiese Laymon, author of LONG DIVISION and HEAVY
“A breathtaking achievement . . . A compulsive, brutal and flawless novel that is full of accomplished storytelling with not a word spare.” Afia Akbar, Observer on BROTHER
“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.” Dina Nayeri, The Guardian on BROTHER
“Riveting, composed, charged with feeling, Brother surrounds us with music and aspiration, fidelity and beauty.” Madeleine Thien, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING on BROTHER
“Mesmerizing. Poetic. Achingly soulful. Brother is a pitch-perfect song of masculinity and tenderness, and of the ties of family and community.” Lawrence Hill, author of THE BOOK OF NEGROES, on BROTHER
“Crackles with electric energy . . . An important, vital and groundbreaking book. You really need to read it. It's that good.” Medium on BROTHER
“Chariandy's often elegiac tone and stately but spare prose establish a compelling melancholic mood. [This] 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.” The Toronto Star on BROTHER
“What can fiction do for us at a time when we are looking to understand other people's truths? As it turns out in this book, everything . . . This book is a high-wire act--a taut, highly visual, time-stopping story . . . filled with moments of swagger and bravery, of recklessness and love that sparks against the dull pain of tragedy . . . With Brother, Chariandy has written a book worth reading through an entire library to find.” Hannah Sung, The Globe and Mail on BROTHER
“Brother diffracts the spare light toward feeling again, after tragedy. Chariandy deftly assembles that which has come apart in the life of a Black family; their privacies assaulted, their desires unmet. Such a timbrous novel. Such a tender work.” Dionne Brand, author of WHAT WE ALL LONG FOR on BROTHER
It's difficult for any parent to discuss the unpleasantness of the world with a child, and harder still when those aspects include racial politics and prejudice that directly impacts both their lives. Novelist Chariandy (Brother; Soucouyant), the son of black and South Asian Trinidadian migrants, makes an elegant foray into that struggle in this letter to his 13-year-old daughter. A memoir of the author's own racial past as well as a meditation on his daughter's present and future, this brief but powerful read conveys the effects of bigotry on people and place and the difficulties of navigating personal identity. Chariandy's lyrical prose heightens and never masks the sharp punch of racism or the fragility of a father's hope for his children. VERDICT Slim but not slight, this touching read will be valuable for all parents, especially families with multiracial children, as well as those interested in viewing the politics of race and racial identity through a personal lens.—Kathleen McCallister, William & Mary Libs., Williamsburg, VA
A Canadian novelist addresses his 13-year-old daughter on the complexities of race, bloodlines, history, and privilege.
In his nonfiction debut, Chariandy (English/Simon Fraser Univ.; Brother, 2017, etc.) shares his reflections with his daughter at a particularly pivotal time in her life. After the election of Donald Trump, she had plenty of questions and concerns. Though their native Canada prides itself on being better than the United States on issues of tolerance, shortly after the U.S. election, a murderer "entered a mosque in Quebec City and executed six people who were at their prayers." The author's parents were reluctant to share the stories that he feels he must tell his daughter, along with his own. They had been brought to Trinidad as indentured servants and had initially been denied entrance into Canada. Chariandy was born and raised in Toronto, but he never felt accepted or understood as "simply Canadian," in the way that his Caucasian wife and her patrician family had been for generations. They had met in graduate school, studying literature, where they discovered "a shared passion for broadening, through reading, the cultural and geographic boundaries of what we each knew. This shared passion sustains our relationship, despite what are some rather stark differences in our backgrounds and upbringings." The author's daughter likes being known as a tomboy, and much of her fashion sense and attitude come from living along the west coast in Vancouver. They have never really discussed how to categorize her or why. "For some of my relatives, you are Black; for others you are Indian," he writes. "And as a girl of African, South Asian, and European heritage, some may consider you still another identity, that of being ‘mixed.' " Beyond question, this slim volume shows how much she is loved and how concerned her father is for the challenges that await her, some of them the same that he faced.
Chariandy's perspective challenges conventional notions that Canada is tolerant where the U.S. isn't and that we have entered an era beyond race and discrimination.