Is a film based on Chariandy’s first book ‘Soucouyant’ in the works?

By Stephen Weir

Soucouyant by David Chariandy

Even as positive social media reviews come in for the current Netflix showing of “Brother,” the Caribbean Camera has learned there could be another film based on a David Chariandy book in the works.

We talked to Chariandy late last week about how he felt regarding the movie “Brother” being shown on the Netflix streaming service. The movie, made by Virgo Clement, is an adaptation of the Trinidadian Canadian author’s hugely successful book published in 2017.

“Brother” draws from the author’s own upbringing in Scarborough. Chariandy, also a professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU), skilfully weaves a tale of two brothers, children of Trinidadian immigrants (turned into Jamaica in the movie), who grapple with violence and prejudice in a Toronto housing complex during the sweltering summer of 1991. The film became a success under Clement Virgo’s writing and direction and was in theatres earlier this year. It was picked up by Netflix just over a week ago.

“I feel very happy for Clement and the production team that the film is on Netflix in the US and also on Crave and Netflix in Canada,” wrote Chariandy. “I’m not sure if the film has made its way to the Caribbean yet.”

When asked about what is new in his life these days, he let it slip that another movie could be in the making. “A production house has optioned my first novel entitled ‘Soucouyant’ for a film,” he said.

The legendary Soucouyant, also known as the “Trini vampire” in Caribbean folklore, is a shape-shifting hag that masquerades as an ordinary old woman by day. By night, she undergoes a startling transformation, shedding her skin to become a fiery ball that flies through the community, feeding on sleeping neighbours and sucking them dry of their blood.

“Soucouyant” is also the title of Chariandy’s first novel, which was published in 2007. This extraordinary debut novel is set in Ontario, in a house near the Scarborough Bluffs, and it focuses on a Canadian-born son who cruelly abandons his Caribbean-born mother suffering from dementia.

The son returns after two years to confront his mother but also discovers a young woman who now mysteriously occupies the house. In their estrangement from one another, he is compelled to re-imagine his mother’s stories for her before they slip completely into darkness. In delicate, heart-breaking tones, the names for everyday things fade while at the same time, a beautiful, haunted life, stained by grief, is slowly revealed.