In the tradition of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, acclaimed novelist David Chariandy's latest is an intimate and profoundly beautiful meditation on the politics of race today.
When a moment of quietly ignored bigotry prompted his three-year-old daughter to ask "what happened?" David Chariandy began wondering how to discuss with his children the politics of race. A decade later, in a newly heated era of both struggle and divisions, he writes a letter to his now thirteen-year-old daughter. David is the son of Black and South Asian migrants from Trinidad, and he draws upon his personal and ancestral past, including the legacies of slavery, indenture, and immigration, as well as the experiences of growing up a visible minority within the land of one's birth. In sharing with his daughter his own story, he hopes to help cultivate within her a sense of identity and responsibility that balances the painful truths of the past and present with hopeful possibilities for the future.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Vancouver's David Chariandy, author of the award-winning novel Brother, returns with a moving open letter to his 13-year-old daughter. Chariandy’s deeply felt meditation on race and identity draws on his recent personal experiences, as well as stories from his Trinidadian family's past. But his main focus is his daughter's present: what a young woman of colour can expect in the #BlackLivesMatter era, when racial consciousness is frequently met with naked bigotry. With Ta-Nehisi Coates' analytical eye and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's lyricism, Chariandy espouses a worldview that’s realistic but hopeful. Reading his book left us with a heavy heart—and renewed energy to fight for social justice.
Novelist Chariandy (Brother) addresses this slim volume to his daughter on the occasion of her 13th birthday, exploring their family's racial and ethnic makeup and the challenges inherent in growing up as a person of color in a white-dominated culture. He weaves together their often similar experiences growing up, recalling his daughter standing up for her brother after he was called the N word at school, alongside his own memories of being underestimated by teachers and taunted by classmates (with whom he empathizes rather than maligning). Alongside this thread is one of resilience and joy. Chariandy recalls the incredible perseverance of his Trinidadian parents, a black woman and an Indian man, who immigrated to Canada in the 1960s and built a beautiful life. He also traces the history of colonialism and forced labor in Trinidad to explore the plight of his ancestors on his father's side and considers the strange dissonance of visiting one's familial country of origin as a tourist. Chariandy hopes for his daughter that she will "demand not only justice, but joy; that you should see... the vulnerability and the creativity and the enduring beauty of others." This is a beautiful meditation on what it means to be among a racial minority, and a blueprint honoring one's heritage.