BOOK REVIEW: My brother and his brother by Hakan Linquist

My Brother and his Brother

Hakan Linquist

This novel is about two brothers. The story is told by one of them, Jonas, an 18-year old boy. Throughout his teenage years he has been trying to get an image of Paul, the brother he never met, a brother who died at the age of 16, the year before Jonas himself was born. There are photo’s and things of his left, kept by their family, hidden away, shadowed with shame and some unspoken family secrets. He finds things written in an unknown language, and people his father seems unhappy for him to have contact with, friends of his brother.  It’s a story of delicate complexity, a story of discovery, both of past and possible futures.

It’s phrased like a crime story, with loose ends, clues and cliff hangers. In his search for his brother, Jonas soon finds out that Paul had an intense love affair with another boy during the last year of his life. It is a detective story. What led to the death of the protagonist’s brother, Paul, why did he stand on the railway track when the train was coming. So many answers and this book explores the effects of grief on a family when a possible suicide takes place, the shattering and breaking that happens.  With a curious sense of the ‘now’ pervading a book which appears to be all about the ‘then’ the narrative tension builds in a completely unexpected way. There are many reflections for Jonas’s own life in the slowly uncovered and revealed glimpses of that of his brother’s before him.

First published in Sweden in 1993, translated in 2002 to French,  and now available in English in a radiant and limpid translation by the author himself.  A short novel with only six main characters, its richness teases the reader’s mind long after closing its covers. Linquist is a serious writer but with a lightness of touch which brings his complex interwoven stories alive, the ending turns in an unexpected direction, ultimately satisfying and worth the read.

Out now £10.99

For more info or to buy the book see the publishers website here: 

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