The Sunday Telegraph (1)

Fury in the family – The Sunday Telegraph, June 16, 2002 – by David Robson

English, Press  

Imagine the story of Cain and Abel transposed to a town on the banks of the Amazon in the mid-20th century and you will have the flavour of this strange and haunting novel. Neither of the two brothers of the title ends up in the mortuary, but it is more by good luck than good judgment that they remain alive. Omar and Yaqub, the sons of Lebanese ex-patriots, are born identical twins, which gives extra venom to their rivalry. As teenagers, they have a ferocious fight over a girl they meet at a party. As young men, they are not on speaking terms. In middle age, they come to physical blows with a savagery that bewilders those around them. Their poor parents long for them to be reconciled; but as a reader, you sense that it is never going to happen. There is something implacable in their hatred. If the plot has a grim, fatalistic quality, Milton Hatoum introduces enough light and shade to save it from being oppressive. The story is told by the son of the family nanny, an inquisitive child tormented by the knowledge that one of the brothers – he never finds out which one – […]