My Brother's Book

Jo-Anne Richards

01 February 2008


“I was born on page 23 of my brother’s book. On page 52, before the whole world, I betrayed him.”

My Brother’s Book tells a story of betrayal and atonement that spans the lives of two siblings from their nomadic childhood in the Eastern Cape in the 1960s, to their adulthood in 2004 in Johannesburg. While the nation struggles to come to terms with its past, Lily struggles with her guilt about her careless betrayal of her brother, Tom, which destroyed his life and their relationship. Tom confronts this fraught past by writing a memoir. But both Lily, and Tom’s former lover Miranda, take issue with the way his book remembers their shared pasts. The two women begin to unravel “the way it really was”. They tell a story of love and loss, of revolutionary fervour – and failure.

As the past unravels, so do Tom’s certainties about his relationship to his estranged family and to his nation. His life is thrown into further confusion and chaos as Lily uncovers a secret that will force him to confront his past.

Jo-Anne Richards has written a poignant and evocative tale of the ways in which seemingly minute choices can destroy lives and relationships. My Brother’s Book explores the most intimate aspects of betrayal and deception set against the backdrop of a nation striving to understand the consequences of its terrible and traumatic past. My Brother’s Book is both tragic and intensely hopeful as it charts its characters’ paths from guilt and betrayal to atonement and redemption.