A Novel

Book - 2018
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Story of the sons of Trinidadian immigrants in Canada and their struggle to battle against prejudices and live a better life.
Publisher: [Toronto] :, McClelland & Stewart,, 2018
Edition: Paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780771023330
Branch Call Number: FIC CHARI D


From the critics

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Jun 21, 2019

Not sure why people love this so much. Definitely some deft moves: the way siren lights distort the neighbourhood, the dangerous electrical pole to agency on the first page, some aspects of the relationships. But the story's catalyst (drug dealer is shot dead, drawing harsh police attention to the neighbourhood) doesn't really work because it's never made clear why this particular violent episode inspired the cops to be dicks rather than some previous episode. Aren't the cops endlessly dicks in places like Scarborough? Shouldn't their oppressive behaviour have been a steady part of the setting rather than something Chariandy needed to trigger?

Language is also a huge issue. The voice doesn't make much sense, like why does the narrator use near-Victorian English to tell his story, fetching this, placing things upon that, and pausing to guffaw? And how, exactly, do you fumblingly put a condom on inside out? There are a lot of clumsy sentence fragments that don't add the depth the author intends (a tinfoil-in-the-window entry is so clunky it's funny), and the overall story is more a collection of immigrants-in-Canada tropes than anything else. The police shooting at its heart definitely makes it topical, but there's no way this book is worth the $200,000 in prize money showered, um, upon it.

Jun 13, 2019

What a great book! What I find valuable about this story is that it gives you a glimpse of the unprivileged realities that are often hidden in a privileged country like Canada. It touches on politically charged topics such as racism, police brutality, discrimination, priviledge, immigration and even mental health, in a subtle -and not so much- ways.
This book won't make you smile,please know that it's emotional and if you are connected enough to the story, it's even enraging and frustrating.

May 18, 2019

Loved it. Kind of like a Canadian version of "The Hate U Give". Highly recommended.

Apr 30, 2019

My thanks to the library for ordering this remarkable book from a Canadian author. We know in the beginning that things may not turn out well and yet we find so much dignity in the observations made by Michael and Aisha and Jelly. What a wonderful book and no wonder it is considered a gem here and in Canada. A must read.

Apr 20, 2019

For teenage reader; more popular than literary.

Feb 13, 2019

Canada Reads 2019

Covers the visible minority experience in a rough neighborhood in Toronto.

Feb 02, 2019

This was well written and the author nailed the sense of place and time.

Jan 25, 2019

While it's true that this book is sad, it's an essential read to understand what life might be like for those living in less privileged conditions. I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for something light and uplifting, but if you're looking to expand your horizons and step out of your comfort zone, I'd highly recommend this book. It's about loss and hopelessness, but it's also about family, love and the power we have to overcome great suffering.

That being said, I didn't find the ending of the book that sad. Without spoiling the plot, I felt it ended on a hopeful note.

Jan 15, 2019

Clearly should have been shortlisted for the Giller. This portrayal of
brotherly love, and of the despair and hopelessness of marginalized communities is fashioned with honesty and delicacy. This author holds great promise!

Jan 13, 2019

This is quite a perfect book about "complicated grief", systemic racism and brotherly love.

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Add Notices
Jan 24, 2018

Sexual Content: sexual awakening and homosexuality

Jan 24, 2018

Violence: fight scene, and violence/ murder

Jan 24, 2018

Coarse Language: various swears

Age Suitability

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Jan 25, 2019

Sarah_R33 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jan 24, 2018

csrestall thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Jan 24, 2018

Michael and his older brother Francis live in Toronto with their single mother. They are from Trinidadian decent. The story begins with a grown Michael welcoming a visting friend into their home, you can tell from the beginning that somthing is not right in the home. There are various stories relayed from the boys youth. Discussing when they used to play by the creek, a trip to the mall gone wrong, Michael going with his brother to the barber shop, fights and some abuse from their mother, the sexual awakening of Michael, two boys afraid of criminals, a one time trip to Trinidad, a failed reunion with their father, and a failed audition resulting in a brawl. There are also glimpses of the present. Michael talking with his friend Aisha, a rememberance party stopped abruptly, the injury of his mother and her hospitalization. The story comes to a close when the reader learns of Francis' death at the hands of the police. The death of her son causes the mother to have a mental break, and Michael to shut himself off from the world. The ending is quite abrupt as we dont see how the mother copes with the death and what happens to Michael.


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