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March 13, 2011

9 Down, 43 To Go "The Last Brother" (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

In my ongoing quest to read more fiction in translation this year, I picked up Nathacha Appanah's novel, The Last Brother with high hopes for several reasons. Several friends had recommended the book, and the publisher (Graywolf Press) always impresses me with its editorial focus.

The Last Brother tells the tale of two young boys in 1944 and 1945 on the island of Mauritius. Raj is a native of the island, David is an orphaned Jewish refugee interned at the island's Beau-Bassin prison. I had never heard the story of the 1,500 European Jewish refugees denied entry into Palestine by the British during World War II and were subsequently imprisoned on Mauritius. Appanah poetically shares their tale through the friendship of these two boys, and pits the lush beauty of Mauritius against the boys' personal tragedies and world war to great effect.

At just over 200 pages The Last Brother is slim by novel standards, but Nathacha Appanah's gift for storytelling and compelling characters (not to mention the brilliant translation that never gets in the way) make this one of the year's most unforgettable novels.

My next book is Allen Shawn's memoir, Twin.

also at Largehearted Boy:

other 52 Books, 52 Weeks reviews

Online "Best Books of 2010" lists
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)

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