Two From the Longlist


We’re getting closer to the big day. In the meantime, while Kim and I are finishing up our reading and reviews, here are two more from the longlist.

First, another review of Next Year, For Sure. You can read Kim’s review of it here. Second, a review of Brother, which I’m thrilled to say is the winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize!


For a book about open relationships, this story is not as steamy as you might think (or at all, really). Instead, Peterson focuses on the psychology of it all. What does this kind of relationship look like, how do the characters feel about it, what are their long-term hopes, and how did they fall into it in the first place?

This was a fast-paced read for me. From the first page I was completely absorbed in the unconventional situation Kathryn and Chris got themselves into, and hoping for the most painless outcome.

It all starts when Chris mentions to Kathryn that he thinks he has a crush on Emily. Well, we all get crushes, right? We just don’t act on them, and they usually fade away. But instead, Kathryn thinks there must be something Chris needs that she’s not able to give him. And if she loves him, shouldn’t she do everything she can to make him happy? So she tells Chris to ask Emily out on a date.

He needs something. Is Kathryn going to be the person to stand in his way?

Love isn’t I love you so much that I need to possess you and control you and be the source of all your happiness. Love is I love you so much that I want you to have everything you need, even when it’s hard for me.

Kathryn’s heart seems to be in the right place, but things don’t go as easily as she thought they would. She feels jealous, but pushes through and urges them on. She even becomes friends with Emily herself.

She isn’t being exactly fair, she knows, snapping at him like this. The date was Kathryn’s idea. And she wasn’t going to be this way. She was going to be cool and evolved, like a Joni Mitchell song. She was going to be magnanimous.

Who is she to sit here with pie in her mouth and say life is miserable? She has everything. She has more than anyone needs. And yet she is jealous? Greedy and grudging and unwilling to share? No, that must stop.

To read this review in full, please visit my blog, Consumed by Ink.


If you’re looking for that one beautiful gem, David Chariandy’s Brother just might be it. It’s raw and honest, and the writing is as smooth as silk.

Michael and his older brother Francis are close as they grow up in 1980s Scarborough, the sons of a single hard-working mother from Trinidad.

Francis was my older brother. His was a name a toughened kid might boast of knowing, or a name a parent might pronounce in warning. But before all this, he was the shoulder pressed against me bare and warm, that body always just a skin away.

We lived in Scar-bro, a suburb that had mushroomed up and yellowed, browned, and blackened into life.

Brother highlights the dedication of hard-working immigrant parents to provide for their children.

All around us in the Park were mothers who had journeyed far beyond what they knew, who took day courses and worked nights, who dreamed of raising children who might have just a little more than they did, children who might reward sacrifice and redeem a past.  And there were victories, you must know. Fears were banished by the scents of simmering pots, denigration countered by a freshly laundered tablecloth. History beaten back by the provision of clothes and yearly school supplies.

Another focus of the story is what it’s like growing up Black in the 80s. In an interview at The Globe and Mail  about his first book Soucouyant, Chariandy talks about being conflicted between telling it like it is – the racism he and his brother faced and how they “quietly accepted it” – and the “desire to rewrite history, to make his characters stand up to their tormentors and show them what’s what.” Despite the fact that there is a similar theme in Brother – racism, bullying, and police violence – in an interview with The Star, Chariandy is quick to point out that “Brother is about life, not death.” He sees this violence and racism as “an occasion upon which to tell a story about resilience, about creativity, about Black life.”

To read the review in full, please visit Consumed by Ink.


What about you? How is your Giller reading going? Any preferences?


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