The Last Brother, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Raj is oblivious to the Second World War being fought beyond his tiny exotic island.

His mother is his sole company while his father works as a prison guard, so the boy thinks only of making friends. One day, from the far-away world, a ship brings to the island Jewish exiles who have been refused entry to Israel.

David, a recently orphaned boy of his own age from Prague, becomes the friend that he has longed for, and Raj takes it upon himself to help David to escape from the prison.

As they flee through sub-tropical forests and devastating storms, the boys battle hunger and malaria - and forge a friendship only death could destroy.


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Review by

Mauritius, 1945, and ten year old Raj, befriends David, a Jew of the same age, a refugee held in a prison on the island. Not understanding the Jews' plight, unaware that there is even a world war raging, Raj seeks to help David, and leads his friend on an abortive and ill fated escape mission.Raj narrates his story in retrospect, told from the point of view of a man now retired. He tells of the loss of of his two brothers when he was still very young, of his abusive father, and his submissive yet strong mother, but primarily of his friendship with David.It is a beautiful well written story of friendship, the trust and loyalty the two boys share is enchantingly related.

Review by

Raj's two brothers died in the cyclone that devastated their Mauritian village, so now he lives with his mother and his violent father in a hut in the jungle. His father works as a warder in the local prison, which incarcerates a shipload of Jews who have been denied entry to Palestine. Raj knows nothing of the war and is amazed to see white people in prison. Through the fence he makes friends with David, a boy of his own age, and during a stay in the prison hospital, where Raj is recovering from a beating and David from malaria, they cement their friendship. In his seventies, Raj relives his short time with David, who died so young. This is a beautifully written book. It was so sad that I put it aside because I couldn't bear that David should die. It unveils a piece of Mauritian history that had remained hidden until 1973.

Also by Nathacha Appanah