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. After a brutal beating lands Raj in the hospital of a prison camp, he meets David, a boy his own age. David is a refugee, one of a group of Jewish exiles now indefinitely detained in Mauritius. When a massive storm on the island brings chaos and confusion to the camp, Raj is determined to help David escape.
Nathacha Appanah’s deeply moving novel, beautifully translated from French by Geoffrey Strachan, sheds light on a fascinating and unexplored corner of World War II history.
The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah is touching, emotionally moving, and fascinating work of historical fiction that will become a book to keep on the shelf for years to come. Appanah crafts an exceptionally beautiful story of Raj, a young boy living on the island of Mauritius during WWII and son of a prison camp guard, who meets David, a young Jewish boy exiled from Europe being detained at the prison. While David has experienced the atrocities of WWII, Appanah gives a very appropriate contrast in the character Raj, who is completely oblivious to the war, yet has an overtly abusive father, giving Raj as much reason to loath his life in Mauritius. Readers will cheer for these boys as they encounter an opportunity for David to escape from his captors and will witness their pain, despair, and will to live as they fight for their survival. Raj and David become known to readers by the beautiful writing that makes them truly authentic characters. Told as a flashback from Raj some seventy years since, Appanah’s The Last Brother is an absolutely compelling book with much to offer readers. I highly recommend The Last Brother to all readers and think for its historical coverage, it would spur lively conversation in book discussion groups.
I received a complimentary copy of The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah from Graywolf Press. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.