Trinidadian author wins writers’ award

David Chariandy

Trinidadian author, David Chariandy, captured the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award Tuesday at a function at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Canada. Chariandy also collected the C$50,000 purse for winning.

The prize was presented for his book Brother, which detailed the battle of two brothers, of Trinidadian descent, Michael and Francis, against prejudices and low expectations that confront them as young men of black and brown ancestry.

The book tells the tale of the brothers being streamed into general classes; shopkeepers seeing them only as thieves; and strangers quickening their pace when the brothers are behind them.

According to Chariandy, the story is about the brothers growing up having mixed ancestry, with a black mother and South Asian father, although both parents were born in the Caribbean. While the sons are growing up in Canada as black, they understand the complexity of their inheritance.

Chariandy said that the book is also a different story about growing up in a place that does not always feel welcoming and the two brothers having to find their kinship, when things get hard.

Chariandy said, “After 20 years of writing, the last novel taking me 10 years to write, this is the first prize that I have won.”

He said that young writers must recognise the powerful legacy of writing that comes from the Caribbean, which has produced some of the world’s greatest writing. He named authors such as Derek Walcott, Austin Clarke, André Alexis, VS Naipaul and suggest that by reading them, others can become better writers.

It is not the first time that Chariandy’s name has been aligned to awards.His first novel Soucouyant, was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award, the in Canada First Novel Award and the Toronto Book Award. It was also longlisted for the ScotiaBankGiller Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Chariandy has blushed scholarly articles and reviews in Essays on Canadian writing, the Canadian Association of American Studies and the Journal of West Indian Literature among other publications.

A professor at Simon Fraser University, Chariandy lives in Vancouver.