Cover Image: Brotherless Night

Brotherless Night

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Member Reviews

Calling all historical fiction fans that are burnt out on World War II and European history, this one is for you! Now, it's set in the 80s and I know some don't quite consider that historical fiction yet, but this book deals with war and militant groups and a group of people many have probably never heard of.

The Tamil people of Sri Lanka have always felt like second-class citizens to the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. In the early 80s conflict soars and the rise of militant groups causes a civil war. The main character in this book, sixteen-year-old Sashi, is the sister to four brothers. All four brothers are impacted by the militant group, The Tigers, and her entire family seems to orbit around the group for the next several years.

I loved this book because it questions everything you know to be right. The line between good and evil is so blurred, especially when the fighting is for your family. I knew nothing about this period of war or about the Tamil people. My heart broke for Sashi and her family. Sashi is a very strong female lead and I was sucked right into her story.

The author also paints an insightful picture of civil war as a whole and how everyday citizens are impacted. The Tamil Tigers were eventually categorized as a terrorist group. They did terrible things to the Sinhalese and their own Tamil people, all for what started out as a fight for equality.

This is why I read historical fiction. To learn about people, culture and places I knew nothing about. Thank you for NetGalley and Random House for an advanced copy of this book.

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A moving, thought-compelling story that made me question what I thought about “terrorists.” A beautiful personalization of events rarely discussed, Brotherless Night gives beautiful dimension and vivid imagery to the Sri Lankan Civil War. Sashi is perfectly written! Strong, resilient, but painfully relatable.

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BROTHERLESS NIGHT was intense. Novel paints a very compelling story for those neglected by the Sri Lankan government and its allies. Book made me want to read more about the Sri Lankan Civil War. I loved the MC and her voice — the opening chapter had me intrigued and I couldn’t stop reading until the last page even though some parts were so heart-wrenching to read.

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This is such a powerful story about regular people trying to survive through a Civil War in Sri Lanka. This demonstrates how civil unrest plays out in normal lives. This focuses on family and friends, who choose different paths. The young folks are studying to try to be accepted into medical school to start their careers. As the uprising takes place, these people are suddenly uprooted from their daily lives into fleeing from the violence. This also affects their families and describes the fear, terror, and the horror that the families face as they flee the violence. This is such a heartbreaking account but such an important read.
Highly recommend especially if you like to learn about other cultures and situations. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

#BrotherlessNight #NetGalley #RandomHousePublishingGroup

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For readers who like character-driven fiction brimming with political and cultural history, BROTHERLESS NIGHT delivers a deep dive into Sri Lanka's decades of civil war. The author's epic, elegant storytelling reveals complex nuances of violence and vengeance. Teenaged Sashi is torn between loyalty to her family, her friends, and her own ambition to become a doctor. Unforgettable characters and lyrical details of life in Sri Lanka make this novel a top pick for libraries, book groups, or world literature classrooms. I especially appreciate scenes exploring ways that ordinary citizens tried to resist the forces of civil war and restore peace to their communities.

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This book is an accomplishment on many fronts, but the exploration of the civil war in Sri Lanka is quite a feat. This long-lasting war provides the backdrop for Sashi’s story as a would-be doctor whose dreams are thwarted by the civil unrest.

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Thank you @v_v_ganeshananthan and @penguinrandomhouse for the gifted copies of BROTHERLESS NIGHTS!

Years ago, in 2009-2011, when I was in my graduate school as a scholar of South Asian studies, I learned about the Sri Lankan civil war. In my classes, we discussed an anthropological scholar who had done ethnographic research on this difficult subject, but that was where my knowledge of the cataclysmic event stopped. It’s also where I met Sugi years ago. Lest, I knew, that one day I will be reading a moving story about everyday, ordinary people who were transformed as a result of this decades long conflict.

Sashi, the youngest among four brothers, aspires to become a doctor as her country faces tumultuous times. She is resilient, strong but also vulnerable and human. In the early 80s, Sashi bears witness to riots in Colombo, which triggers her and her family’s decisions years after. Once she returns to Jaffna, gradually the Tamil community is marginalized and often targeted.

She begins with her readers to think about what being a “terrorist” means, and then she unfolds her encounter with K, a boy who also longs to become a doctor but then after the Sri Lankan war becomes intense in the 1980s, becomes a part of the LTTE movement. Through K and Priya’s characterization, her novel complicates the notion of terrorism and humanizes their lives , while at the same time, demonstrating that wars causes us to make unimaginable decisions and choices we may not make in a different, peaceful world.

As the years unfold, Sashi is mentored by a professor named Anjali who not only guides her to become a good doctor, but also encourages her to stand up for truth. Although the ending will leave you gutted, this is a novel that should be read to understand about how war and political conflicts can transform us as human beings. And, that, all and every decision weighs heavily as the subsequent trauma becomes irreversible in nature. Ultimately, this novel reinforces the idea that it is the lives of ordinary people that is upended during a political war/conflict but also is often not told enough.

#BrotherlessNight #VVGaneshnathan #RandomHouse #PenguinRandomHouse

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It's been a while since I've read the handful of books I want to compare this to, so I hope I am not being inaccurate or generalizing--I thought a lot about the experiences I had reading God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn, In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, and some of Isabel Allende's work. These are all very different cultures in very different times (read over the last handful of decades from me--from high school to college to motherhood to now) but they all felt like they had that family saga (and I don't mean that in a soap opera way at all) in the midst of country's upheaval kind of narrative.

This was one of the first books I've read in a while that I had a hard time putting down. I have read a lot of beautiful books as of recently, but this one, I kept wanting to turn to--there are scenes in here that had me riveted, such as the one in which Ganeshananthan named her book for (in which the eldest brother goes into the night and--oh dear, spoilers, I will hush) and the clinic scenes--I could picture the courtyards and the fires and the food and the hands that held that food. I loved this book so much.

This will also appear in my permanent highlights on my Instagram account as a book I would recommend. This will be under "Book recs" and will remain there as long as I review books for NetGalley.

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V. V. Ganshananthan’s Brotherless Night is a beautifully-written, detailed historical novel depicting the decades-long Sri Lankan civil war between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority.

Ganeshananthan opens the story in 2009 New York City as a first-person narrator speaks of sending a letter to a terrorist she used to know, including a note asking to visit him in the city where they both now live. What the rest of the “letter” concerns, readers don’t yet know. She speaks of having once done whatever “a certain type of person” asked her to do because she had also been what people would label a terrorist. She then explains that the name “terrorist” is an oversimplification, a handy label easily applied to a complex history—a time when ordinary civilians, like the people anyone knows and loves, too easily became known as “terrorists.”

Part I: The Near-Invisible Scar opens in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, 1981, with a long chapter titled “The Boys with the Jaffna Eyes” in which the 15-year-old narrator mentions how she first met the boy she calls K, her first terrorist, “when he was deciding to become one.” Aspiring medical students studying for entrance exams, K and the narrator’s brother were each a year older than she and included her in their study sessions at Jaffna Public Library since she, too, hoped to become a physician like her grandfather.

With the Tamil desire for an independent homeland in Northern Sri Lanka, the narrator’s brothers and father attend a political rally, which suddenly turns violent. When a Tamil radical shoots and kills two Sinhalese police officers, the police exact revenge, stopping young men on the streets and beating them, taking people from their homes, and burning a Tamil newspaper building, the Jaffna market, and Jaffna Public library. In this chapter, readers also learn that the narrator’s name is Sachi and that she has later become a New York Emergency Room doctor. Her path there will be much of her story.

With the full-fledged Sri Lankan civil war yet to start, the end of Chapter 1 already gives readers a taste of V. V. Ganeshananthan’s vivid skills. As crowds flee the political rally, as Jaffna market burns, and as the young people who studied at the library and the brother who worked there view the charred remains, readers will feel almost as though they, too, lived through the experience.

This is a heart-rending story of loss, love, home, and survival—of what it means to live with the past while also carving out a present and future.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advance reader copy of this eye-opening and highly-recommended historical novel.

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Sashi is 16, dreams of becoming a doctor, and she lives in Sri Lanka during the early 1980's when a civil war was underway. This novel reads like a memoir and the author skillfully takes you into what it feels like to live in a world torn apart by war. Choices that are clearer when not living a war zone become much more difficult when the world is falling apart around you and the author helps you empathize with Sashi and her choices. This is not an easy read AND it's a deeply involving one.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of Brotherless Night in exchange for an honest review. The book is available now.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this work of historical fiction. The writing is excellent, the characters compelling and the author shines a light on events that I knew nothing about. I so admired the main character's dedication to family and her persistence in pursuing a future filled with learning even amidst the most dire of circumstances. The moral dilemmas that she faces forced me to take another look at my own feelings about terrorism and war. Her efforts at exploring feminism and her own role in her country even as bombs were exploding around her were enlightening and inspiring. An important book that I am so glad I read. I look forward to recommending it to library patrons, as well as purchasing my own copy.

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Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshanathan is the story of one woman’s journey through a thirty year civil war. Jaffna, 1981, sixteen year old Sashi wants nothing but to become a doctor. She wants to follow the path of her grandfather and older brothers. She has come to believe the medical mantra of “do no harm,” she studies harder and longer than anyone else. As she is ready to enter university, a vicious civil war rages on the island of Sri Lanka. Her dreams take her on a different path than she ever imagined as she watches those she loves and cares for get swept up in the radical political ideologies and the consequences of those beliefs. When she realizes that both sides are willing to commit atrocities, she finds herself on a dangerous path. Sashi finds herself asking: does anyone go through life without doing harm to others?
Brotherless Night is set in the early years of the Sri Lankan civil war. I was intrigued by this period of history that I was not aware of. Sri Lanka, an island off the coast of India, is home to diverse cultures, languages and ethnicities which have led to conflicts. Brotherless Night is a compelling read with the heartbreaking choices that many had to make for the life they felt they deserved. While the outside world may have seen them as unworthy and expendable, through Sashi’s eyes, readers see people trying to do what is right and others taking extreme measures to have a place in the world. The author writes sweeping, lyrical descriptions of the people as they fight this battle, as one quote stood out to me and stuck in my mind as I read: “Divided by colonial power, ancestral angers and bullheaded pride.” I recommend Brotherless Night.

Brotherless Night is available in hardcover, eBook, and audiobook.

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A compassionate and detailed look at the lead up and aftermath of Black July, the culmination of the ethnic strife between Sinhalese and Tamils.

What drew me to this book is how Ganeshananthan aims at breaking down and building up the ripples and changes in both families and communities that were born as a result. She draws attention to how mothers, sisters, and grandmothers formed a movement to find the young men who had been rounded up by the army, to the young men who chose the militants to fight for their people and community, and the resulting pogroms and escalating violence.

She makes us question the capacity for hate and change in individuals and how to understand and approach the process of forgiveness and healing. Along with the fracture between the people of Sri Lanka, she portrays how families also break and reform or how new families are made from the rubble and circumstances of this violence.

In beginning the book with the word, terrorist, os just the start in a story that at its core is about humanising individuals regardless of the choices they had to make.

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I was unaware of the decades long civil war that devastated Sri Lanka until picking up this book. Ganeshananthan provides vivid details into the lives of a family torn apart by the war, told through 16-year-old Sashi's eyes. Sashi is studying to become a doctor and soon finds herself questioning morality and how she can best serve. While this book started slow, the reader is quickly thrown into the turmoil of this war- gruesome acts, tough decisions, and divisions among the people. It was a crushingly beautiful read.

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This book opens with Sashi, a doctor in NYC in 2009, writing a letter to a terrorist she used to know. She immediately brings us back to the 1980s, when she is a teenager in Sri Lanka when the civil war begins. The beauty of this book is how Ganeshananthan portrays the nuances of war. It’s not as simple as this side vs. that side, but varying opinions within each side and atrocities committed by all. Countless opinions, actions, and experiences shape every person’s decisions, which we see through Sashi and her brothers’ different experiences as Tamils during the war. Ganeshananthan provides historical and political context without lecturing, which I appreciate. You don’t need to now anything about this period of history before reading this book and you learn a lot but don’t feel like you’re in a boring class while you’re reading it.

I usually only note the pacing of a book when it’s off, but I have to say I LOVED the pacing here. She speeds up and slows down at all the right places. I never felt like this book was 432 pages; I could have kept reading more.

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Brotherless night is set in 1981 and takes place during the Sri Lankan civil way. The story centers around 16-year-old Sashi. Sashi dreams of becoming a doctor just like her eldest brother but after the violence of the war begins, her entire world and everything she knows turns upside down. Sashi soon becomes swept up in the violence and starts to fight for everything she loves.

The book takes us to a first-hand account of the horrors of war. As painful as this story is to read, it's even more frightening that this happened. Sri Lankans were a part of this horrific war that lasted three decades and never once did they receive any aid from the United Nations.

Brotherless Night is an absolute must-read and a story that I will not be forgetting any time soon. V.V. Ganeshananthan did a masterful job not only crafting this story and setting but also with her characterization. I highly recommend Brotherless Night to all!

Brotherless Night taught me that as an outsider, I'm quick to condemn others for acts of violence but ultimately what would I do if we were in that situation? Wouldn't I also fight to protect not only the place we call home but also my loved ones?

Brother less Night was published on January 3, 2023 so it is available now! Many thanks to Random House and Netgalley for the gifted copy!

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Gorgeously written and emotionally heartrending, this book brings the complex politics of Sri Lanka into bright relief and intricately examines the tough moral choices one has to make in times of war and crisis. This book was hard to read at times because of the relentless tragedy but was wholly rewarding in the end.

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A thoroughly-researched and well-written novel. We've had a few Sri Lanka novels lately that have all focused on the civil war. But this one has a woman character at its center, which is rare and welcome. And, reading this book, one realizes that there are still many untold stories about Sri Lanka's difficult times. This book deserves all the accolades and attention it is receiving.

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Breathtakingly beautiful, yet painful to read, I was totally absorbed into this novel from the start to its end. I have rarely read such a shocking yet touching story. I won't easily forget this one! I recommend this novel to any reader wanting to learn more about the struggles of humans in worlds we in the United States can only imagine.

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What a wonderful and unexpected book. From the synopsis, this book doesn't exactly seem like the time period I usually choose books from, but that is what makes it so beautiful and enriching. The story follows a young woman who is en route to study to become a doctor, but her life takes a turn. Set in Sri Lanka, the story is set against the backdrop of a time period with which I am not very familiar, which is a civil war in Sri Lanka between two factions. The story was relatable, well written, and from what I can tell - very informative as well. I knew virtually nothing about this period of time - the early 80's in Sri Lanka, but the book brought it to life and painted a picture that someone would be able to see themselves in the characters.
I highly recommend snapping this up if you already enjoy historical fiction like I do, and learn something new at the same time.

This ebook was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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