Publication Date: 06/07/2023 ISBN: 9781611854237 Category:

Brother Alive

Zain Khalid

Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: 06/07/2023 ISBN: 9781611854237 Category:
Paperback / Softback


Become the envy of all book lovers with your own Mr B’s sticker to show off where you do your shopping.



*Winner of the NYPL Young Lions Award*
*Winner of the CLMP Firecracker Award*
Finalist for the NBCC John Leonard Prize
A New York Times Writer to Watch This Summer
Named a Best Book of the Year by Literary Hub and Library Journal

In 1990, three boys are born, unrelated but intertwined by circumstance: Dayo, Iseul and Youssef. They are adopted as infants and live in a shared bedroom perched atop a mosque in Staten Island. The boys are a conspicuous trio: Dayo is of Nigerian origin, Iseul is Korean and Youssef indeterminately Middle Eastern, but they are so close as to be almost inseparable. Nevertheless, Youssef is keeping a secret from his brothers: he has an imaginary double, a familiar who seems absolutely real, a shapeshifting creature he calls Brother.

The boys’ adoptive father, Imam Salim, is known for his radical sermons extolling the virtues of opting out of Western ideologies. But he is uncharismatic at home, a distant father who spends evenings in his study with whiskey-laced coffee, writing letters to his former compatriots back in Saudi Arabia. Like Youssef, he too has secrets, including the cause of his failing health, the reason for his nighttime excursions from the house and the truth about what happened to the boys’ parents. When Imam Salim’s path takes him back to Saudi Arabia, the boys will be forced to follow. There they will be captivated by an opulent, almost futuristic world and find traces of their parents’ stories. But they will have to change if they want to survive in this new world, and the arrival of a creature as powerful as Brother will not go unnoticed.

With stylistic brilliance and intellectual acuity, in Brother Alive Zain Khalid brings characters to vivid life with a bold energy that matches the great themes of his novel – family, capital, power, sexuality and the possibility of reunion for those who are broken.

Publisher Review

Beguiling...Khalid's sentences abound with florid, poetic metaphors while maintaining the clipped, declarative tempo of Scripture....a searing collage of the profound and the mundane * New York Times * [An] auspicious debut...Khalid brilliantly reveals new shades of truth from each character's point of view, and perfectly integrates the many ideas about capitalism and religious extremism into an enthralling narrative. It's a tour de force * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * One of the most exciting debuts in recent years...That Khalid executes a novel this intricate, elegant, and compassionate with such masterly prose all but guarantees that this will be one of the finest works of literature this year * Library Journal * This wildly ambitious novel seeks to break new ground in big-issue territory like provenance, race, class, birth and rebirth...that it succeeds in some of its lofty aspirations is impressive. To do so while creating memorable characters is even more of a feat. * Big Issue * Zain Khalid's imagination and talent are a marvel to behold in these pages. Brother Alive bristles with a kinetic, hypnotic energy that also manages to ask profound questions about love, faith, family, and loyalty. Hallucinatory and electrifying, Brother Alive announces the arrival of a writer with an impassioned and fearless vision. -- Maaza Mengiste, author of THE SHADOW KING, shortlisted for the Booker Prize Brother Alive is a hallucinatory revelation. With beautifully-written prose, characters that truly leap from the pages, and a rendering of love, both familial and romantic, that made my heart ache, Zain Khalid has announced himself as a writer the world needs to sit up and pay attention to. An exquisitely told, breathtaking, revolutionary book, I barely blinked while reading it and was bereft when I finished it. -- Kasim Ali, author of GOOD INTENTIONS A rigorously intelligent, wholly sensitive and quietly rebellious work of art, with prose as profound as it is beautiful. What an inspiring examination of the waywardness of life and the grounding of love this story is. What a wise, thoughtful writer Zain Khalid is. What a gift to humanity this book is. -- Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times-bestselling author of THE PROPHETS Brother Alive is a remarkable work. Zain Khalid creates an immersive world rich in compelling detail. But even more impressively, Khalid achieves a kind of resistance text against our endemic inhumanity. The thrill lies in witnessing such a cogent and powerful intellect tune in to the music of life. An inspiring reminder of the great capacity of novels. -- Sergio de la Pava, author of A NAKED SINGULARITY This genre-defying novel, and the intelligence, originality, and awareness of the mind that produced it, astonished me. I was reminded of Gunter Grass, of Viet Thanh Nguyen. Through the consciousness of an unforgettable narrator, Youssef, Khalid begins by subtly illuminating the contours of a globalized world in which the personal is geopolitical; he ends by turning up the light and refusing to let us look away. -- Vauhini Vara, author of THE IMMORTAL KING RAO

Book experts at your service

What are you looking for?

A recommendation
Something specific
  • Mr B's Recommendation Station
  • Fill in the three questions below, along with your name and email address, and our book experts will be in touch soon with their personal recommendations

  • I'm after something specific
  • Tell us about the book, author or subject you're looking for, along with your name and email address and our book experts will be in touch as soon as possible