"A Different Economy": Postcolonial Clearings in David Chariandy's Brother
- ariel: A Review of International English Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 52, Numbers 3-4, July-October 2021
- pp. 171-199
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This article explores the myriad of ways in which racial identity and geographical location are deterministic factors in David Chariandy's Brother (2017). Borrowing from theories of critical race scholars, including Rinaldo Walcott, Idil Abdillahi, and Frantz Fanon, this article argues that Chariandy's book is an exemplar of how an economy based on intrinsic value privileges human bonds over money. In response to dominant Canadian discourses that position Black men as criminals, Chariandy's novel celebrates Black masculinities and reveals how law enforcement haunts the communities, homes, and small businesses of Black people. The characters in Brother find refuge in what I call postcolonial clearings, which take the form of barbershops, hidden valleys, and music. This article begins with the premise that Canada is a colonized territory that treats Black people as second-class citizens. The article underscores police brutality which in Brother—a text set in the Toronto of the mid-1990s—is directed at racialized people, especially Black men. Chariandy not only breathes life into Black men rendered nameless and faceless by powers-that-be, but he also questions the central ideals and pillars of the Canadian nation-state.