The name David Chariandy may not sound familiar, but this multiawarded Canadian author and literature professor is set to make waves this 2018. Chariandy was a critical success with his first novel, Soucouyant. But now with Brother about to be published by British publishing powerhouse Bloomsbury, his name is sure to be known to many more readers.
David Chariandy was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Carleton University in Ottawa. He then attended York University in Toronto for his PhD, which he received in 2002 after completing a dissertation on black Canadian literature. Afterward, he moved to Toronto and is now a professor of English literature at Simon Fraser University.
As an academic, Chariandy’s specialization lies in contemporary fiction, most notably Canadian, Caribbean, and Black Atlantic. He also specializes in theories of postcoloniality, diaspora, and races. He has published reviews and articles in various journals such as The Journal of West Indian Literature, Essays on Canadian Writing, The Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures, The Canadian Association of American Studies, and more.
Chariandy’s debut novel was Soucouyant (2007), a story of a Canadian-born son who abandons his Caribbean-born mother after witnessing her descend into dementia. A soucouyant is a Caribbean evil spirit and a symbol of distant legacies, and the novel is rightfully named so. Two years after abandoning her mother, the son returns home, only to find that she is not alone anymore. She is now living with a young woman whom he does not know. To atone for his sins, the son attempts to understand his mother by imagining himself living his mother’s early life—the life of a child who witnessed war in Trinidad and an immigrant arriving to start life anew in Canada. The book was shortlisted for multiple literary awards, including the City of Toronto Book Award, the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize of British Columbia, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction.
Ten years later, Chariandy penned another novel about the Canadian immigrant experience. Brother is the story of two sons of Trinidadian immigrants, growing up in the ’80s and ’90s in the deprived outskirts of Toronto. The story is told in the past and the present, exploring not only the relationship of the two boys but also their relationship with their mother. The novel examines the prejudices they face each day and the event that changes their lives drastically. Brother was also the recipient of the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. In their announcement, the jury cited Brother as “both an exceptional coming of age story and a poignant meditation on love, loss, and humanity.”
Chariandy has once again shed light on Canada and the struggles faced by its immigrants in the hope of affecting change. Chariandy will be publishing his first novel outside of Canada, as Bloomsbury UK is set to publish Brother this March.
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