I hope that you’ve picked up your copy of The Last Brother and have begun your journey.
Nathacha Appanah introduces us to Raj as he awakens from a dream of a child now grown, David, impossibly present. Raj struggles with the knowledge that the adult David cannot truly be with him.
” Suddenly I had had enough of waiting, I reached out my hand to him and it was morning, my room empty, the light dazzling, David vanished, the dream gone, my arm outstretched, outside the bedclothes, numb with cold, and my face bathed in tears.”
For the past 60 years Raj has not dreamt of David. Why does David visit him now? Raj has lived on the island his entire life and yet has never visited the cemetery, but is compelled to afterward. The author admits that she had no knowledge of the camp while she was growing up in Mauritius. Is there a lesson here for the reader?
Why do you think the author chose to set the story so far after the actual events?
In chapter one Raj reflects back to his time with David and wonders “I am the one who has survived and I am at pains to know why. I have led a plain life, I have done nothing remarkable…” In chapter 2, Raj is now an eight year old boy, unremarkable and, in his eyes, less worthy than his older brother Anil and his younger brother Vinod. They have been living in abysmal conditions in a camp for sugar workers, the children of an alcoholic brutal man. Raj is chosen to be the one child in the family to attend school, he is the only child that survives the flood. “Why me?”
Raj is a “common man” who has survived a traumatic youth to become a beloved father and successful adult. How has he have survived and thrived? Why did the author choose such a “common man” to share this story?