The Brothers – Kirkus Review, May 15, 2002

English, Press

 

A fraternal rivalry exacerbated by incestous passion yields potent melodramatic consequences in this absorbing fourth novel (second in translation) from the Brazilian author of The Tree of the Seventh Heaven (1994). Again, Hatoum focuses on a Lebanese immigrant, a trader named Halim, and his tragically conflicted family: twin sons Yaqub (a successful engineer hamstrung by his “calculating ambition”) and Omar (a drunken wastrel filled with “excessive hostility yoward everyone and everything in the world”), their importunate younger sister Zania, and Halim's tempestous Brazilian wife Z

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ana, whose love for the brooding Omar surges dangerously beyond the bouns of maternal devotion. Their story – which takes place in and near n economically depressed seaport city in the years following WWII – is sedulously pieced together by an initially unidentified involved narrator whose secondary, though crucial, relationship to Halim's household is only gradually, and quite artfully, revealed.

A beatifully constructed story, replete with colorful incident and brisk, vivid characterizations, leaving a deeply ironic, bitter aftertaste. One of the better recent novels out of Latin America.

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