Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan

Published: January 3, 2023

Random House

Pages: 368

Genre: Literary Fiction

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

V. V. Ganeshananthan is the author of Brotherless Night and Love Marriage, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize and named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota and co-hosts the Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast on Literary Hub, which is about the intersection of literature and the news.

Jaffna, 1981. Sixteen-year-old Sashi wants to become a doctor. But over the next decade, a vicious civil war tears through her home, and her dream spins off course as she sees her four beloved brothers and their friend K swept up in the mounting violence. Desperate to act, Sashi accepts K’s invitation to work as a medic at a field hospital for the militant Tamil Tigers, who, following years of state discrimination and violence, are fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. But after the Tigers murder one of her teachers and Indian peacekeepers arrive only to commit further atrocities, Sashi begins to question where she stands. When one of her medical school professors, a Tamil feminist and dissident, invites her to join a secret project documenting human rights violations, she embarks on a dangerous path that will change her forever.

Set during the early years of Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war, Brotherless Night is a heartrending portrait of one woman’s moral journey and a testament to both the enduring impact of war and the bonds of home.

“How could one word be enough?”

What happens when war takes over your country, and people band together, claiming it for your good- but they are just as deadly as any enemy? How would seeing the dead body of someone around your age lying in the street for days mark you? Losing a brother to “the cause”? Having two brothers run away to join this cause- only to find they did horrible things. This is the Sri Lankan reality.

Holy buckets. This book was heavy. And the weight just continued to pile on as I read. I cannot imagine seeing the things these characters did.

While this is a work of fiction, it is based on actual events, and it’s terrifying. I cannot imagine witnessing everything you know going up in flames and having people you love disappear.

This was a powerful, beautiful novel that will sucker punch you page after page. Our main narrator was so incredibly brave, so bold, and so angry.

I cannot describe the pain within these pages. It breaks my heart knowing this happened, and happens, in faraway places. And that so many are comfortable saying, “there is nothing we can do.”

This book is about doing something. Surviving. Witnessing. And refusing to be silenced. This powerful novel will shatter your heart and leave you sobbing. Beautifully written, eloquently delivered, and powerfully emotional, this is a must-read.

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