Set in the great Brazilian port of Manaus during the golden decades of the Rubber Boom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this is the story of identical twin brothers who battle for the love of their mother. It is also a vivid and surprising portrait of a city built over the confluence of two great rivers in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, and the novel itself is full of eddies, dangerous undertows and shifting surface reflections. While recounting the fortunes and trials of this Lebanese immigrant family over many decades, THE BROTHERS also delivers a wealth of sensations to the reader: a city full of smells (diesel fuel, oxen entrails, flowering jasmine), of sounds (the cries of vendors, the butchered sheep, the steady heartbeat of boat motors) and tastes (of tropical fruit, of Arab sweets, of blood) as well as an array of sights. THE BROTHERS is a study of destruction which finds hope in the marginal and long-marginalised. It is a hard-eyed portrait of not just a family but of a nation in which the Amazon has long remained a mute, if vast, appendage.
Milton Hatoum was born in Manaus and THE BROTHERS is his second novel. He lives in Sao Paulo.