The Last Brother

Nathacha Appanah, trans. from the French by Geoffrey Strachan, Graywolf, $15 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-55597-575-3
In Appanah's impressive novel, two young boys living in Mauritius during WWII secretly become friends. Eight-year-old Raj and his two brothers live on a sugar plantation where their parents eke out a marginal living. But Raj's brothers are swept away in a torrent, and the family moves to the heart of the island, where his abusive father finds work as a prison guard, overseeing European and Jewish inmates exiled from Palestine by the British to Mauritius, where they await the war's end. Here Raj meets David, a detainee close to his age, and feels an immediate kinship with him despite Raj's father's warnings that the prison holds dangerous men. When Raj's father beats him so severely that he's admitted to the prison infirmary, his friendship with David deepens; the love Raj can no longer give his brothers he offers to David. Weather once again intervenes in Raj's life when a cyclone hits the island, and he and David attempt to outrun their fates together. Appanah's descriptions are meticulous, and the heartbreakingly endearing Raj makes for an unforgettable protagonist. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 201 pages - 978-1-84916-401-6
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-55597-023-9
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