Paperback, The Brothers, The Daily Telegraph, February 28, 2003

English, Press


Megan Stephan, Sinclair McKay and Charles Osborne review the latest paperbacks

The Brothers by Milton Hatoum (Bloomsbury, £6.99)

From the start, this novel, a kaleidoscopic work following the lives of a Lebanese family living in the Brazilian port of Manaus in the middle of the 20th century, exerts a curious hold. Halim, a trader, and his wife, Zana, have twin boys, Omar and Yaqub. Temperamentally

at odds with one another – Omar grows up to be the charismatic though hard-drinking ladykiller, while Yaqub becomes more austere – their growing conflict powers the narrative.

The book zig-zags back and forth across the years, building a heavily emotional tapestry, for this is the sort of book in which people do not hold back. The lives of the family are one thing, but what also grips is Hatoum's evocation of this exotic world. From the markets, with their offal and flies, to the lush foliage, rich colours and myriad smells, this is an unusually sensual book. SM


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