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The Last Brother (Lannan Translation Selection)by Nathacha Appanah
There's something so unique about books that have been translated; the language feels different somehow — quieter, brighter, more lush — and here the translation is carried out elegantly. The Last Brother tells the story of Raj, a nine-year-old boy who lives on an island in the Indian Ocean during WWII. Raj is unaware of the war ravaging most of the world, but he becomes acutely aware of a group of Jewish refugees incarcerated in the prison where his father works. Raj befriends a 10-year-old boy named David who lives in the prison, and the relationship becomes central to Raj's life and happiness. Each boy suffers under their own ugly history, and together they try to assuage old pain and forge a new life. Appanah shows us heaven and hell on earth through the eyes of a child, and it is a view unquestionably worth seeing. Beautiful.
Synopses & Reviews
As 1944 comes to a close, nine-year-old Raj is unaware of the war devastating the rest of the world. He lives in Mauritius, a remote island in the Indian Ocean, where survival is a daily struggle for his family. When a brutal beating lands Raj in the hospital of the prison camp where his father is a guard, he meets a mysterious boy his own age. David is a refugee, one of a group of Jewish exiles whose harrowing journey took them from Nazioccupied Europe to Palestine, where they were refused entry and sent on to indefinite detainment in Mauritius.
A massive storm on the island leads to a breach of security at the camp, and David escapes, with Rajs help. After a few days spent hiding from Rajs cruel father, the two young boys flee into the forest. Danger, hunger, and malaria turn what at first seems like an adventure to Raj into an increasingly desperate mission.
This unforgettable and deeply moving novel sheds light on a fascinating and unexplored corner of World War II history, and establishes Nathacha Appanah as a significant international voice.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
NATHACHA APPANAH, a French-Mauritian of Indian origin, was born in Mauritius and worked there as a journalist before moving to France in 1998. The Last Brother, her fourth novel, won the Prix de la FNAC 2007 and the Grand Prix des Lecteurs de L'Express 2008. GEOFFREY STRACHAN is the award-winning translator of Andreï Makine.
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