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. Today, in a newly heated era of both struggle and divisions, he has completed 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. He connects his personal experiences of being named and read with those of his children ("What are you? Where are you really from?"); he ponders the painful truths behind the modern science of ancestry; and he reflects upon the disenfranchised today in distant ancestral homelands, or else caught helplessly between countries as refugees, or else right here, upon often unacknowledged Indigenous lands. In sharing with his daughter his own story of "race," he hopes to help cultivate within her, as a child of Black, Brown, and white ancestry, a sense of identity and responsibility that balances the painful truths of the past and present with hopeful possibilities for a more equitable and just future. With intimacy, sensitivity, and care, Chariandy shares the questions he is addressing to his daughter--and these are questions of immense importance and resonance for us all.
About the Author:
David Chariandy grew up in Toronto and lives and teaches in Vancouver. His debut novel, Soucouyant, received stunning reviews and recognition from eleven literary award juries, including a Governor General's Literary Award shortlisting, a Gold Independent Publisher Award for Best Novel, and a Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. His second novel, Brother, was published in 2017 and was named to the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.